World AIDS Day: Let’s accept each other as we are and start with real sex education

While Secretary Clinton is right that the next generation could be AIDS-free, I agree with Steve Seibold. His excellent blog on Huffington Post points out that the basis of preventing the disease is sex education.

Nearly half of American teens admit to being sexually active. When I was a teenager, I was. But, I was more afraid of being seen buying birth control than I was of becoming pregnant. I didn’t even know about STDs.

In many parts of the world, the problem is compounded with stigmas surrounding homosexuality, and then prevention of employment due to being HIV-positive. While hiking with a Korean friend this week, she was amazed A) that I have a family member that is gay, B) that it doesn’t matter to me, C) that he is HIV-positive and D) that someone will employ him.  She was stunned to learn that he is a vibrant, inspirational part of our family and community. Omigod!!!!!

Yes, maybe 95% of people thought this way in the US 40 years ago, but things have improved! As one of my Korean friends said, who lived in the US for awhile: “In America, you can be who you are!”

I know we still have a ways to go! But, of the countries I’ve visited, we are more open-minded and more accepting than most.

So, let’s go with that strength. We can make an HIV-free generation by completely accepting each other as we are: sexually active teenagers, gay, HIV-positive, or whatever!

As Seibold said in his blog, “Are we too emotionally immature to educate our kids about one of the most beautiful parts of life?”

Compared to battling a disease such as malaria which is spread by pesky, evolving mosquitos, HIV is a disease spread by lack of information, stigma and/or shame. These are things we can easily address, if we choose to accept reality and each other, and go from there.

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