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Anger Surrounds My Youth Gruop Speech

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I am scheduled to talk to a group of about 200 Gay youths in August. Before I talk to them I asked the director about what the theme should be. We basically agreed that prevention would be appropriate. After talking to her for a while, she felt really bad about a recent incident. There is this teenaged boy, age 16, who told the group about 4 weeks ago that he found out he was HIV+. Well, he was so angry and so upset with his situation(duh) that for the next four weeks he "took over" the group and evidently it became so disruptive that they through him out of the group! I was shocked. So she explained to me that the kids there just are not "getting it" when in comes to HIV/Aids.
1) I feel totally bad for the kid and offered my assistance, which she did not yet accept
2)I'm so freaking angry at the group in general I'm thinking I should just make my speech so scary to them that they all have nightmares the night after my little talk with them.
What would you all do??? Thanks in advance for your help!

Matty the Damned:
Jeff I appreciate your feelings here, but I'm not sure how well teenagers react to angry adults. I never responded well to them cranky grown ups when I was a teen and I wonder if your purpose in this is to "teach them a lesson" or to learn what makes them behave in such a way?

Once you've worked that out, you may well be in a better position to resolve this positively for all concerned.


Jeff, I agree with Matty here.  You aint gonna scare them if they don't hear you.  I would try to delve into their issues rather than inflame them.

Jeff, I feel your anger.  I have have the opportunity to speak to many teens regarding my HIV status.  Not 200 at one time but classrooms full.   You may only be speaking to 200 but you may reach thousands; teens love to talk about sex.  Just be honest and talk from the heart.  Scaring them doesn't work.  One of the biggest things that shocked the teens when I spoke was that they can get HIV and other STD's from oral sex.  They believed they were save.  They also thought Magic Johnson was cured so it was okay to mess around.  Explaining to them the basics of the disease, how it is transmitted, explaining the cost of health care, both financial and emotional, and the difference between non detectable and "there is no cure"  may benefit them more.  You have a great opportunity to honestly share the pain, and horrors of HIV/AIDS.  Good luck and I am sure you will do a great job.

Andy Velez:
Hi Jeffrey,

You need to think about what your goal is in talking with these kids.

Talking about prevention with them is a real service on your part and a much needed one among gay teens.

Here are a few specific suggestions:

1. Speak simply and directly from both the head and the heart.

2. Speak clearly and quietly so that you can be heard and understood without having to shout. (The idea here is to be talking WITH them rather than AT them). 

3. Make a few notes about some statistics in terms of the current rising number of infected teens, etc. You can give the overall infection numbers but of course emphasize how this is a virus that is relevant to them.

4. Give a few details about what it's like to live with HIV.  

5. Last and absolutely not least, tell them if they are having sex, the most important way to protect themselves is by using latex condoms everytime they have intercourse, no matter who it's with. Emphasize no exceptions no matter what they think they know about their partners. A condom is a must everytime.

6. If you are comfortable with this, tell them that as gay teenagers they have to deal with prejudices and challenges that are different from the experiences of many straight teens. It's very important that they not allow those difficulties to get them into unsafe sexual situations, because HIV isn't like a cold. If you get it, you get it for the rest of your life. This may also allow you to get into saying something about HIV/AIDS phobia and the prejudices that those living with the virus have to deal with- And the importance of being supportive to each other.

7. If you know how much time you have to speak make sure you leave sometime for them to ask questions. If it's ok with the director, give the address of this website and tell them should they have questions in the future or want to know more they can get answers here.

8. These are suggestions. Just use what's helpful to you and to the teens you're talking to.

Good luck with this and let us know how it goes.



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