AIDSNew Hampshire
Perceptions Analysis Assessment


News Stories





        Kids I went to high school with were hit by trains, committed suicide, involved in fatal car accidents, drove drunk, crashed their motorcycles, were killed on escalators, or dropped dead from rare heart conditions. No one died from AIDS. I don't know of anyone in my high school that had HIV. I don't know anyone in college that's HIV positive. No one in my family is HIV positive, and I don't personally know anyone who is HIV positive.

        The word AIDS was never mentioned in elementary school. In first grade, one of the kids in my class had a bloody nose; we were told not to touch the blood because it could have "bad stuff" in it. My middle school health class was pretty much useless. All I really
remember from it was my extremely obese gym teacher explaining that we needed to eat healthy foods and exercise everyday to stay healthy. Most of the emphasis was on making positive decisions, like saying no to drugs and not sexually harassing people. The only mention of HIV was in relation to drug use. Sex caused babies and the only reason you would have sex was if you wanted to get pregnant. That's why only married people had sex. I was under the impression that every time a girl had sex she got pregnant. I earned an A.

        My high school health class was a bit more practical. For the first time, it was hinted that sex was something that might be enjoyable and that could possibly happen outside of marriage. But, lots of bad things could happen if you had sex. Pregnancy was just the beginning. There were lots of sexually transmitted diseases out there. Some of them could even kill you. AIDS and syphilis were the two you really didn't want. But, there was protection from these and pregnancy. Abstinence was the only 100% effective method. Condoms were pretty good. By all means, use a condom if you're going to engage in such risky behavior.

        In high school I knew what AIDS was. I knew how you could catch it. I didn't think that it was really a problem where I lived. AIDS was something that was in Africa and New York City. I thought that heterosexual sex and sharing drug needles were the main ways to contract HIV. I didn't know that men could have sex with other men.

        And then I got to college. All of a sudden I was surrounded with free condoms, information about safe sex, and STD testing clinics. I had never seen a condom until college and now they where hanging in bags outside our RAs door along with free candy. I couldn't walk down the hallway without seeing signs saying "got consent?" or "know your status". About three weeks into the school year one of my friends was talking about getting tested for STDs every year. That was the first time I had ever heard of someone having and HIV test done. She was from New York City.


Center Barnstead, NH