June 20, 2003
The best way to help local teens avoid contracting HIV is to deliver the message in settings youngsters trust: at home, in church, in classrooms and youth groups, says a new report on HIV prevention prepared by a Rochester, N.Y., coalition of youth agencies. Research on HIV prevention suggests that when strangers try to teach kids about how to avoid the virus, the message does not get through.
"We need to engage the people that young people look up to," said Sheila Driscoll, director of the Metro Council for Teen Potential, the coalition that conducted the HIV prevention survey. Driscoll listed parents, teachers, youth leadership counselors and clergy as some of the best people to teach teens how to avoid AIDS. Funded by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, "Youth and HIV Prevention" was released at the coalition's annual meeting Tuesday.
The need for prevention is great: youths ages 15-19 in Rochester have the highest rates of STDs, according to local and state health statistics. Also troubling, Driscoll said, are statistics suggesting that African-American and Latino youths are at highest risk. Half of Monroe County's new HIV cases in 2002 were among African Americans, and 11 percent were among Latinos.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
06.18.03; Diana Louise Carter