Consider these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from a survey of high school students in 2013:
- 47% had ever had sexual intercourse.
- 34% had sexual intercourse in the previous three months. Of course, 41% did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
- 22% of sexually experienced students had been tested for HIV.
- Nearly 10,000 young people (ages 13-24) were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States in 2013.
- Young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and 72% of new HIV infections among youth in 2010.
Students in South Carolina’s public schools receive information primarily focused on abstinence with little to no instruction on how to prevent pregnancy and the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Parents can play a key role in providing medically accurate information that can help put a stop to the alarming spread of HIV among young people.
Planned Parenthood has a number of resources and tips for parents so they can have this very important discussion.
A few good tips:
- If you need an ice-breaker to get the conversation started, use a TV show or movie that depicts teens engaging in a sexual relationship as a springboard to discuss what your child should do in that situation.
- Provide truthful information. If they don’t get the facts from their parents, they’ll be asking their friends or looking online. Parents have a chance to frame and influence the conversation.
- If your child is already sexually active, encourage safer sex and the use of birth control and condoms. If your teen has engaged in unsafe sexual behavior, take him or her for a HIV test.
Palmetto Community Care has free condoms as well as free HIV testing Monday through Thursday. No appointment is needed and results are available in about 20 minutes.