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
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
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