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Not Making the Grade: Adolescents and HIV

According to an article entitled Teen Sex: Not Always Bad?, by Candice Lucey, about one quarter of sexually active teens contract STDs, including HIV/AIDS. The article focuses on academic differences in teenagers who engage in sexual behavior and those who are abstinent. By 19, 70% of never-married teens had lost their virginity. While the study says teenagers in a committed relationship do not necessarily suffer academically, those who have multiple relationships tend to have a drop in GPA. However, as the first sentence indicates, grades are not the only problem sexually active teenagers have to face.

In 2005, the Center for Disease Control reported that almost 90 percent of high school students had never been taught about AIDS or HIV infection in their school. Yet, according to The Guttmacher Institute, more than 14% of teenagers ages 16-19 had already slept with 4 or more individuals and 23.3% of sexually active teens had sex after taking drugs or drinking alcohol.

Reports suggests the media provides a causal attitude to sexual behavior, making it appear to be a given in any relationship. Furthermore, despite information stating otherwise, teenagers still believe that the contraceptive pill and the HPV shot will protect them from HIV and other STDs. Not only that, they do not associate oral or anal sex with STDs and wrongly view them as abstinence.

The consequences of teenagers engaging in sexual behavior coupled with ignorance about transmission, according to Lucey, “warrants discussion as to why children, essentially, turn to sex at all.”

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