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JUNE 16, 1997


People not fully aware of dangers of HIV

HIV dangers According to some surveys I read recently, people are seriously underestimating the danger of AIDS. Although AIDS is the leading killer among men and women ages 25-44, a 1996 survey showed that 62% of that age group believed they were at no risk at all for contracting AIDS. Likewise, 47% of 18-24 year olds saw no risk to themselves.
   Another 1996 survey on attitudes on AIDS among women and mothers revealed that mothers did not even come close to knowing the number of AIDS cases among young people. In addition, only 17% of the mothers correctly identified the HIV virus as the leading cause of death.
   Studies like these prove that people are not fully aware of the dangers of the HIV virus. While some AIDS education is taught, I feel there is a need for more public awareness at all age levels.
   Throughout my years in school, I am aware of basic sex education being taught in fifth, sixth, and eighth grade. Maybe I wasn't paying attention in class those days, but I don't remember much AIDS education being taught with sex education. The section on AIDS was brief. It shouldn't end in eighth grade. The AIDS education curriculum should continue on in high school. This is the time teenagers are well on their way to becoming young adults. Many start experimenting with sex, protected or not. If more young teens are educated beyond eighth grade, I believe this could reduce the leading cause of death and the death rate of men and women ages 25-44.
   This newspaper could help out by providing public service ads every now and then educating readers about the risks of the HIV virus and AIDS. We need to get the word out in many different ways. It's a message that can't be said enough times. Education is power and could save lives.
   These are only two suggestions and there are so many other ways to raise public awareness. For example, I am 15 years old and I am volunteering my time at an organization that helps people with AIDS. If we get more involved in education and supporting these kinds of organizations, we will be able to make a positive impact in our community and reduce the leading cause of death among young adults.

Sarah Lamb, Bothell