st louis high school facing HIV crisis

A suburban school in St. Louis has come face to face with the reality of HIV after discovering that as many as 50 of its students may have been exposed to the virus.

According to the AP, "The St. Louis County Health Department said last week that a positive HIV test raised concern that students at Normandy [high school] might have been exposed. The department is not saying whether the infected person was a student or connected with the school, only that the person indicated as many as 50 students may have been exposed.

The Health Department also will not say how any exposure might have occurred. Health Department spokesman Craig LeFebvre has said the possibilities include sexual activity, intravenous drug use, piercings and tattoos."

Citing a need for privacy, the school is not revealing many details about the situation. However, I hope they are taking steps beyond just offering testing. This is an important time for sex education.

Unlike a lot of medical conditions, HIV can actually be prevented. That’s true even if someone is sexually active, uses drugs, or gets a piercing or tattoo.

But in order to prevent the virus, people have to know how it is spread  (mainly by having vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom, or by sharing needles for drugs, tattoos or piercings) and what spreads it (semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk).

With the discovery of newer and better HIV meds and a shift in viewing the infection more as a chronic lifelong condition than as a death sentence, it can seem as if the AIDS crisis is a relic of another era.

But as the situation in St. Louis reminds us, this is a dangerous attitude to take. Well over a million Americans live with the virus, and experts estimate that of those, 16 to 30 percent are young people between 13 and 24. 

So while HIV has beome more manageable, it sure hasn’t become a history lesson.

Posted in: Health, Sex & Relationships, The State of Sex Ed
  • elizabeth: did u read the article? not all the teens got hiv from sex. who r u to judge. we've all sinned before.

  • matty

    I tottaly disagree with elizabeth. You can get married and your husband can have a HIV AND transmit it to you if you do not have safe sex. You can be a teenager who is sexualy active and not married with out suffering any consequences if you are safe. plus sex is fun you should try it!!!

  • Elizabeth: It's not a reality. There are plenty of people out there, some of them teens, who have had premartial sex and come out no worse for the wear. Having sex outside of marriage will not garuntee you an STD, and having sex during marriage will not garuntee that you won't get one.
    And keep in mind that the spread of HIV might not even be through sex: it could be from sharing needles for drugs, peircings, or tatoos, as was said in the article.

  • Kelly

    reply to anon—
    Uh, saying you didn't know this site had "her type" is a little bitchy. I'm not stating my views for or against plural marriage, but really, degrading her to a "type" is a bit harsh.

  • anon

    reply to stompy
    Seriously! I didn't know this site had your type. But, unless you want diseases or worse, to spread it…but i guess thats up to you.

  • reply to elizabeth
    i'm not getting married til they legalise plural marriage! one person is just not enough for a girl like me!

  • cher

    Sex is a natural thing, but it can be unsafe. To say that schools need to teach about abstinence is to say that there wont be one student who has already had sex and doesn't like the feeling of it. What should be taught is that even though sex is natural, no one needs to have it to be popular or "cool". And to say that it is not the school's job is stupid since it becomes the school's problem and many students don't live in a nice home with caring adults who talk with them and set a good example.I couldn't tell you how many students' bad actions were a result of their parents.Plus more students have more problems at home then any adult knows about. We need to try to help these kids and show them the side effects and results of unprotected sex and sex myths that they most likely believe like that if a boy does not ejaulate he can not get a girl pregnant when in fact he can! And no HIV and AIDS isn't a death sentence, but it deals with pain, weakness, high doses of meds, and problems that you never would of thought you had.

  • Elizabeth

    theres always consequences to all the bad things you do even if they dont seem bad. Teenagers should not be having sex at all but wait untill they're married with their husband/wife. Everything you do that is against God brings consequences. Many people may think this is dumb but it's true not just in my beliefs but in reality. That's why the teenagers who had sex got a consequence: HIV. Always think before you act

  • Hekate

    Reply to Mandy
    Yup, abstinence only sex ed programs work wonders. Hell, look at Bristol Palin, she was raised on abstinence-only sex ed and– wait a minute, that's right. She's now pregnant during her mother's most media-hungry time of her life. I'm not saying that abstinence isn't a legitimate concept, I'm just saying it's unrealistic for people to think everyone will follow through. You may as well give kids some sort of way to defend themselves.

  • ash

    School is NOT to prepare you for the future. That is the parent's job.
    The school's job is to educate, not raise children and young adults.
    So I agree with you on the full scope mandatory sex education.
    I just hate the fact that some parents are lazy f#cks and want the school to not only educate, but raise their children as well.

  • Ally

    It's a school issue, because basically a school should provide teachings for a child. School is technically to get people ready for the future. And sex is part of the future for many teens, and without the proper learning they could possibly get sexual diseases. And it isn't impossible.
    The sad thing is, parents or guardians do not always teach their kids about sex. It may be because of religion or just plainly ignorance. And by making it mandatory at schools, people may be better ready for their futures. And be well informed about HIVs.

  • noe

    Either way, why is it the school's problem? The children have homes and parents who are even more responsible to teach them about sex than the actual schools.

  • Rachel F

    Well, it's quite a stretch to call it a "bright future"…with a lot of luck and speedy care, those teens will be able to keep from acquiring AIDS, but it will be a lifelong endeavor to keep themselves healthy, even if none of them have AIDS yet.
    This is really tragic to me. It's a failure of the school system's sex/health education program. If one individual can think of fifty people they've had indirect (unprotected) sexual contact with, or shared dirty needles with, there's a serious problem there.

  • Mandi

    This has been on our news for over a month now (Their district is right next door) and my Child Development teacher used it as another reason to push Parkway's abstinence only sex ed program. It was really kind of scary. She just said "See? This is why you should never have sex as a teenager." and told us the vague statistics for the number of teens who regretted having sex.

  • noe

    Well, I believe that (in part) it's a good thing that it's not viewed as a "my life is over" disease. People have learned to accept and live with it, we don't want people all depressed because they have it, we want people to fight it. True, viewing it as a "no biggy" isn't a good thing, but at least people have a bright future thanks to meds.