|Risk of AIDS is increased
- an increased number of sexual partners.
- IV drug use; tattoos.
- any sex (oral, anal or vaginal) without condoms.
- alcohol and other drug use (sex is more impulsive and use
of condoms less likely if under the influence of alcohol or
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a chronic
illness caused by infection with HIV (human immunodeficiency
virus). In 1995, as many as 1.5 million Americans are believed
to be infected with HIV. Some of them have AIDS, but most have
no symptoms at all, and many do not know they are infected.
There are medical treatments for HIV infection, but so far there
are no cures and no vaccines.
HIV is transmitted through exchange of certain bodily fluids
such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. To
produce an infection, the virus must pass through the skin or
mucous membranes into the body.
HIV infection is preventable. Knowledge about HIV is an
important aspect of prevention. Parents should educate their
children and also work closely with schools, churches, youth
organizations, and health care professionals to ensure that
children and teens receive sex education and preventive drug
abuse courses which include material on HIV.
The HIV virus dies quickly when it is outside the human body.
It cannot be transmitted by day-to-day or even close social
contacts not mentioned above. Family members of an HIV-infected
individual do not catch the virus if they share drinking glasses
with the patient. There is no known instance in which an
HIV-infected child has passed the virus to another child in
HIV infection occurs in all age groups. 20% to 40% of the
babies born to HIV- infected mothers develop HIV infection
themselves. Many of these children die within one or two years,
but some live for years, although their development is slowed
and they can get many infections.
If a child shows signs of drug abuse or premature sexual
activity, these are risk behaviors and are reasons for immediate
medical inquiry and intervention. Evaluation by a child and
adolescent psychiatrist can be an important first step in
helping a family respond effectively to high risk behaviors in
their children and adolescents.