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Conquering the god complex.

Teenagers often think that they are invincible. They think that nothing like HIV can touch them. They are sadly mistaken. The CDC reports that over 15,000 teenagers are HIV positive between the ages of 13 to 24. Most teenagers don't know that they are infected. Most don't believe that they are at risk for contracting HIV.

Teenagers need to be aware of the behaviors that put them at risk. Only when educated to safe practices can teens stop the spread of HIV. There are certain groups of teens that are at risk more than others. These groups are:

* men who have sex with men. Teens are less likely to tell anyone that they are having sex with other men.
* teens who have unprotected sex
* teens who share needles during drug use

Teens have to stop being afraid to get educated. Peer pressure is one of the leading causes for failure to get tested or speaking out. This is alarming when one considers that nearly one half (47 percent) of students state that they are having intercourse. For college students, the numbers are even greater- almost 80 percent of students between 18 and 24 have engaged in sexual intercourse.

Unprotected sex is one of the most common ways to spread the HIV virus. Most females are afraid to speak up about the use of condoms. They feel that it is not the "in" thing to do. These thought patterns are leading the higher numbers of infected. Because teens don't feel that they can become infected. They are not getting tested. This is leading to many infected teens infecting others unknowingly.

HIV/AIDS is not the only STD that is contracted through unprotected sex. Syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia or gonorrhea. Using condoms is the only way to protect yourself against these diseases. Without the use of condoms, these diseases will run rampart.

Education and awareness are the only tools that we have to fight against the disease. Parents, educators, leaders have to talk to teens to get them to understand the facts. Teens have to be made aware that this disease does and is affecting them. The only way to do this is to start talking and educating our teens. We can't be afraid of rejection. We must get through!

If you haven't already, talk to your teenager about HIV and STD's. Let them know that they are at risk and how they can keep themselves safe. Create an environment where they can come freely to you to talk about their concerns and issues. Get them accurate information on the facts. Allow them to view the statistics about their age groups.

It is crucial that we get the message through to our teenagers about sexually transmitted diseases. Many are making decision that have consequences that will last a lifetime.

Be aware.... Get Educated... Stay ALIVE!!!

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