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You, Me & HIV - UK
Katie's lack of knowledge about HIV highlights the importance of HIV/AIDS education at a young age. As Katie lives in the UK, she had sex education lessons – this is part of the national curriculum – but around the world many young people are not offered lessons like this. Also, HIV is often missed out from sex education lessons, as it is not specifically a sexually transmitted infection; it can be transmitted in other ways too, such as by sharing injecting drug equipment, and from mother-to-child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In the UK, surveys show that people are increasingly confused about HIV transmission routes.1 This may be particularly true for Katie’s generation, who missed out on many of the nationwide awareness campaigns at the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s. For Katie’s generation, sexual health campaigns have largely focused on chlamydia, as opposed to HIV – which has been very overlooked in recent years.
HIV is rarely the first thing on a young person’s mind, but Sally’s story makes us think about how HIV can affect the people around us, however old they are. Globally, 39 percent of all new adult HIV infections in 2012 were among young people aged 15-24.2 A major part of preventing HIV infection is through education, whether that is at school or through community projects or youth groups.