What do kids know about AIDS?

Think your teens and tweens understand the ins and outs of AIDS? Think again. A recent survey showed that while teens see AIDS as a big problem, both locally and globally, some also think you can get AIDS from tainted food or casual contact.

Recently, Weekly Reader Research surveyed 1,000 kids in grades 9-12 to find out what they know about AIDS. The results were mostly encouraging. For instance, the majority of kids were able to list the top three ways AIDS can spread, but there’s still a need for more and better education, says Mike Fassino, director of Weekly Reader Research.

While the Internet and some school health classes discuss AIDS, the information overload can prove confusing to kids. Fassino says this generation of kids wants the information from the resource they trust the most—you.

“We’ve done a lot of research to understand what tweens and teens think about their parents and how this generation interacts, and in general they see parents as a source of trusted information and guidance,” Fassino says.

One positive result of the study was how strongly this generation of kids feels about their ability to make a difference in fighting AIDS. Almost 70 percent of the teens surveyed said they’d like to get involved in fighting AIDS in the United States and abroad and almost 80 percent would be willing to raise funds to fight AIDS.

“This generation wants to solve global problems at a local level,” Fassino says."Most kids think AIDS is a big problem, both locally and globally, even though they don’t know anyone with AIDS.”

Survey results

• 100 percent of kids in grades 10-12 have heard of AIDS

• Nearly 100 percent felt the AIDS issue was serious or somewhat serious

• Most knew AIDS is transmitted by sexual intercourse, infected needles and blood transfusions, but some also thought it was transmitted by kissing, casual contact with an infected person and tainted food

• 62 percent believe students should begin learning about AIDS as early as middle school

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