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A teenage perception of HIV/AIDS

Taylor Moore | 11/6/2013, 10:21 a.m.
The only reason my picture is different is because I saw a show on TV where a kid got HIV ...
Taylor Moore standing next to her senior project

A shudder passes through the room.

Everyone feels weird just thinking about it.

We’re in Health class and we’ve just started talking about a new topic, HIV. Most of us don’t know much. We’re only 16 and most of what we heard about it came through the grapevine.

“I heard gay people started it,” my friend whispered.

“You have to be a hoe to get it,” another student said.

Everyone has their own ideas and perceptions about what a person with HIV looks like. Some of my peers picture a grimy, dirty person who doesn’t care about their hygiene. Most picture a person like Barney Stinson or Charlie Sheen – suave men who have many partners – to be perfect candidates for HIV. The only reason my picture is different is because I saw a show on TV where a kid got HIV from a blood transfusion. To me, that’s a strange and improbable scenario. I feel that most people get it from messing around with too many people.

The Health teacher starts to talk and everyone grows silent.

He tells us you can get HIV from just one time. Then he told us that you can get tested for HIV, come out negative and still have it. We were all astounded that it took six months to be sure you didn’t have HIV.

I didn’t know you could have HIV and not know it. People can pass it on unknowingly.

Then the teacher talks about how hard it is to live with HIV/AIDS.

I knew it was something I never wanted to get.

After that class, my perception completely changed. I never wanted to have sex because everyone was a potential HIV carrier. I knew even if we both got tested it could mean nothing for six months. Before, I pictured a select group of people being HIV positive, but now I know anyone can have it.

Good people can be HIV positive and I wish everyone my age knew it.

Taylor Moore is a senior at John Hay High School of Science and Medicine. She aspires to be a journalist.