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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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Talking to Your Children About HIV and AIDS

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The Risks of Not Talking to Kids About AIDS

Teens or children can get HIV by having sex, being sexually abused, or by sharing needles and syringes with someone who has HIV. But often parents don't want to believe that their child is at risk. In fact, half of mothers of teenagers who are having sex think their children are still virgins.

Here are more reasons to become a better-informed and more communicative parent.

  • More than three out of four 12th graders have had sexual intercourse.
  • Almost one out of four teenage girls felt pressured the first time they had sex.
  • Four million teens are infected each year with a sexually transmitted disease (STD), which also increases the risk for HIV.
  • More than one out of four new HIV infections in the U.S. occurs in teens.

Setting the Stage for Empowering Communication

Young children learn from how you react as well as what you say. Remember that your responses to questions or lack of response -- anger, irritation, or discomfort, for example -- all speak volumes about your views. Here are some things you can do to set the stage for empowering communication.

  • Start early with discussions about body parts. Then move to more sensitive topics.
  • Model how to say "no" respectfully. Teach children that it's OK to say "no," even when it's not a popular response. Fostering self-esteem will also help your child to withstand peer pressure.
  • Encourage appreciation for a healthy body. This helps set the stage for HIV prevention.

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