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April 10, 1998     Cape Gazette
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April 10, 1998

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CAPE GAZET3, Friday. Apmil 10 --dm, il.1,,199,- 48 Part II: Preventing HIV/AIDS - tea 1 t thq. youth "The pattern of infection among American youth is consistent with the evolving global epidemic." - Jonathan Marm and Daniel Tarantola, "AIDS in the World II" By Sean C. Venable If our primary task in prevent- ing HIV/AIDS is to change our risky behavior by changing our thinking, then we need some way to look at our thinking. What are the messages or "scripts" that un- dergird and contribute to the con- tinuation, if not escalation, of the AIDS epidem- ic? And if our scripts are faulty, then how do we go about a change? One place to look is our youth. VENABLE As a group, our adolescents can be important to our under- standing of how we think, behave and perceive in this culture. They mirror us more than we'd proba- bly like to admit, and they are the ones who carry the scripts from one generation to the next. According to Mann and Taran- tola, "experimentation and risk- taking are fundamental aspects of adolescence" and those behaviors make our young vulnerable to peer pressure. Other outside forces that support risky behavior inlcude the dangerous messages of media ads relative 'to health promotion: explore? risk! experi- ment? be attractive! According to Raphael Diaz in "Latino Gay Men and HIV," Lati- no culture represents 38 percent of the general American population. The culture supports many socio- cultural factors that negatively af- fect men and their ability to pro- tect themselves from HIV, includ- ing, but not limited to machismo, homophobia, family loyalty, smooth or non-confrontational re- lationships - "simpatica" - and fa- talism. Simply put, we tell our youth THE KNITTY GRITTY 240 Rehoboth Ave. 226-05oo Tues - Sat. 10-4 Fitness Tip ot' the Vfeek How does exercise reduce weight and fat? It increases the total daily ener- gy expenditure. It enhances body fat mobiliza- tion and maintenance of lean body mass. It reduces upper body and ab- dominal visceral fat. It increases the rate and amount of fat metabolized. It reduces the mortality rate in obese persons. Submitted by Robert Cairo, licensed physical therapist, Tidewater Physical Therapy, 945-511 I. liiiii00ii!iizii!00!i iii0000iii00 i ii! i!i!iii!!ii!iiiii!i!i!i!!J!!i!!!!i!i!i!iii!!!j!!i!!!!!!!iii!ii!i!!iiiii!i!i!iii#!ii!!i!iiii!!iiii!ii!iZ!i!iii!ii!iiiiiiiiiiiiii!i!i!i!!ii!i!!iiyii!iiii!iiii!i!i!iiii!!iiiii!iiiiiiiiii!iiiiii!i!iii!iiiiiiiiiiiii!iiiii!i what is sexy and attractive, what is not acceptable and essentially what sex should look like. Re- member name-calling? Although it is pretty disgusting, name-calling is the most overt manifestation of the rules that we use to limit, to the exclusion of all other possibilities, gender roles and standards in our society. Consider terms such as "stud," "fag," "virgin" and "slut." For ex- ample, a lack of sexual prowess makes someone a fag; knowing and talking about sex makes someone a slut. Any other possibilities are neg- atively cast and seem to be what we're afraid of - things that we suspect might be true about our- selves. Here's where homophobia rears its ugly head: these gender-script- ed ideals of sexual desirability and prowess are reinforced by peer pressure and other outside forces. Peer pressure cannot be dis- counted by reinforcing sexually scripted notions, such as "taking risks means that you are proving your love"; "one must get and keep a partner, because a parmer equals or measures your desirabil- ity and worth"; and "bringing up safer sex practices equals a lack of trust." But sexual scripts are not just a set of extemal forces like name- calling or peer pressure; they are a way of thinking, seeing the word, seeing our role in that world that is socially constructed and then internalizing it. Somera and Lamb, who au- thored "Breakin' Down Sexual Scripts: Empowering Youth in HIV Prevention Education," not- ed the following: "Fish can't describe the water it swims in; so why do we assume i;!ii The American Heart Association is offering free blood-pressure screenings in April. Screenings are as follows: Wednesday, April 15 Nanticoke Crossing Edgehill, 1:30 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 21 Rehoboth Edgehill, l0 a.m. to l p.m. Lewes Edgehill, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Christiana Care Visiting Nurse Association will offer free blood- pressure screenings as follows: Tuesday, April 14 Cape Henlopen Senior Center, l0 a.m. to noon Wednesday, April 15 Indian River Senior Center, l0 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 21 Long Neck AARP Chapter 4903, Crab Barn, I l a.m. to 2 p.m. our scripts are 'normal and natur- al?' Being critical of scripts em- powers people to behave in un- scripted ways. Lacking the free- dom to make sexual choices keeps us from protecting ourselves, which leads to risky behavior and situations." The fact is that socially con- structed and internalized scripts - gender roles and acts, activities, rules, rituals - can be and need to be changed. For a moment, let's take a look at the alternative to changing the scripts for the HIV-infected young person. Chris Collins, who au- thored "Dangerous Inhibitions: How America Is Letting AIDS Become an Epidemic of the Young," stated that the youth who are at the greatest risk of HIV in- fection include the abused; boys who have sex with boys, whether they are identified as gay or not; young women; people of color; poor people; the homeless; and runaways. A complete selection of quality-made hospital-type home care beds and accessories is available at Edgecare "1' haeludlz both manual and electric beds, side rails, trapeze bars and overbed tables. CALLUS... WE WILL BE GLAD TO HELP. EDGEHILL PHARMACY Peddlers' Village Lewes, Del. 945-5066 The young person who is HIV- positive faces problems of racism, homophobia, sexism and poverty. These are deeply personal experi- ences that affect self-esteem, abil- ity to talk about sex openly and confidence to insist on personal protection. Young people on the street are especially vulnerable, because they lack fundamental se- curity and often are forced to trade sex for money and shelter. According to Mann and Tarna- tola, "Although HIV risk is an in- dividual problem, being HIV-POs- itive is not an individual 'prob- lem' or 'sickness.' Rather, it is an unlucky manifestation of a sick culture. Living in this culture, we are all vulnerable; we have all been affected. Until we change our culture, we will all continue to have the sickness, even if not all of us have gotten the virus yet." A Possible Solution: Customized Prevention Groups So, how do we prevent HIV/AIDS in our adolescents and in our culture as a whole? How, in the long run, do we change our thinking and our risky behavior? I advocate an early, peer-orient- ed, customized intervention in group environments that address the following educational con- cepts: HIV pathology and the risks of HIV infection Continued on page 44 Show 'era you LOVE-era... COME IN FOR MORE INFORMATION OR A FREE CATALOG.