Prevention of the HIV epidemic
HIV prevention among young people is the key to reducing infection rates and slowing the epidemic. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 are at the greatest risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV. They are both the most threatened and the greatest hope for reversing the HIV epidemic, by changing attitudes and behaviours. The future epidemic will be shaped by the action and behaviour of young people.
The major aims of HIV prevention include:
- Prevent transmission of HIV for all people (HIV-negative, HIV-positive or of unknown status), to reduce the number of new infections.
- Help people who are HIV negative to stay negative.
- Promote testing and counselling for people who do not know their status.
Young people everywhere report that the education they receive about HIV and sexual reproductive health is too little and too late. Adults are often hesitant to provide young people with the facts about HIV prevention and sexual health, often because they fear this will encourage sexual activity. But there is convincing evidence from studies in many different cultures that, in fact, sex education encourages responsibility. Knowledgeable young people tend to postpone intercourse or, if they do have sex, to use condoms.