We may know where our children are but do we know what they know about AIDS? Oh sure, by now they probably know something about condoms if they live in an urban area and are lucky enough to attend a school where the HIV/AIDS curriculum is presented. But wait, even if they do let’s not take things for granted. Until about four years ago, schools in NYC did not provide comprehensive HIV/AIDS education until advocates and then City Council member and now Manhattan Borough President Scott Springer led the fight to force the issue throughout the five boroughs.
But what else do they know? Do they know that clean syringes reduce transmission of HIV infection and that these are available from NYC’s Harm Reduction and Syringe Exchange programs? Wait a minute you say, no kid of mine is going to be an injection drug user. Well maybe not but what if your son or nephew shoots steroids? Or insulin? And just in case they do inject drugs, wouldn’t you prefer they do it safely and receive HIV counseling and testing when they receive the clean syringes.
Do they know that homelessness is one of the greatest risk factors for HIV infection? Do they know that stable housing helps homelessness HIV infected people get into and stay in HIV/AIDS care and treatment? Do they know that they can help end AIDS by getting involved?
It’s World AIDS Day 2009. It’s almost 30 years into the epidemic. Do you know where your children are?