USA Today Examines Youth-Oriented HIV Prevention Efforts
USA Today examines HIV/AIDS prevention efforts aimed at young people, who now represent half of all new HIV infections worldwide. Although 60% of young people are sexually active by the time they reach their senior year of high school, researchers say that most teens lack "even the most basic information" about condom use, HIV transmission and safe sex. To reduce the level of infection among young people, several companies and organizations have started youth-oriented HIV prevention efforts. MTV recently launched the "
Fight for Your Rights: Protect Yourself" campaign, a
year-long sexual health effort that will include concerts,
grass-roots events, public service messages and a Web site with information about HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex and condom use. In addition, the South African government and the Kaiser Family Foundation have implemented the "world's largest HIV prevention program," loveLife, in South Africa. LoveLife aims to halve HIV infection rates among South African youth in five years. The program uses "edgy ads, celebrities and hip peer education programs" to convey HIV prevention messages, USA Today reports. Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that there is a "pervasive cynicism" regarding whether prevention campaigns will successfully alter young people's sexual behavior. But he noted that prevention programs "don't have to bring about a 100% behavior change" to be effective, adding, "Even a modest change of behavior, if it's sustained, can have a huge impact" (Sternberg, USA Today, 7/18).
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