Are you the parent of a teenager? If so and you haven't had a talk about HIV testing with them, now is the time. Research shows that 46 percent of all high school-aged adolescents are sexually active and in 2013 alone, 406 kids between the ages of 13 and 19 were newly-diagnosed with HIV in the United States. Even if you only have a few minutes you can spend with your teen tonight, sit them down and let them know the below four things.
They Can Ask You Anything
If you think your teen's school is thoroughly educating them on sexual education and the importance of HIV testing, you very well could be wrong. The Center for Disease Control recommends 16 sexual education topics be covered by schools, but fewer than half of the high schools in most states teach all of these topics.
Make sure your child has a basic understanding of HIV and how they can protect themselves from it. Let them know that getting tested is important for a couple of different reasons—it helps prevent the spread of the disease and early detection means early treatment. Finally, make sure your teen knows that if they have any questions about HIV or getting tested, they can come to you for answers.
Cost of Testing Is Not an Issue
If your budget is tight and your teen knows this, they may feel guilty about asking you to fund an HIV test. Make sure that they know that they can gets tested free of charge at many local, state, and federal health departments, and that you'd be willing to give them a ride to any one of these testing facilities. Research shows that teens who are offered free HIV tests will accept the offer more than half of the time.
Anonymity Is Not an Issue
Your teen may want to get tested for HIV, but won't for fear of their friends and schoolmates finding out. Put their mind at ease by explaining to them that STD testing is always kept 100 percent confidential. Let them know that it would be against the law for a health care clinic to disperse their information to anybody else, even their immediate family.
If you still can't persuade your teen to get an HIV test at a clinic, consider purchasing an at-home HIV testing kit. Teens that refuse HIV testing in a clinical setting may be willing to take at-home tests with which they can be sure that only they see the results. Reputable at-home HIV tests will predict negative tests with 99.98 percent accuracy and positive tests with 92 percent accuracy. Make sure the at-home test you purchase for your teen is approved by the FDA.
A Positive Test Is Not the End of the World
The final thing you should tell your teen when you have the talk is that a positive HIV test by no means signifies that their life will soon come to an end. Today's medicine is really good at preventing HIV-positive people from developing AIDS, which is the real danger. The gap in life expectancy between HIV-negative and HIV-positive people has narrowed drastically over the last decade. In fact, an individual who is otherwise in good health and who begins treatment soon after contracting HIV can live for several decades.
If you haven't talked with your teen about getting tested for HIV, today's the day. By encouraging your child to get tested, you boost their odds of a better prognosis should they test positive for the infection, and you help combat the spread of the disease on a global level. For more information or assistance, contact resources like Safer STD Testing.Share