Talking to Youth about HIV - Conversation Starters

Talking to youth about HIV/AIDS can often be difficult and uncomfortable because it requires talking about issues such as sex and drugs. To start a discussion, it may be helpful to try these strategies:

  • Ask what the young people are learning about HIV/AIDS in health, science, and other classes.

  • Start a conversation about choices and consequences. Point out that every choice has consequences and that young people control and are responsible for their decisions. Begin by looking at choices such as watching television versus doing homework and discuss the positive and negative consequences for each decision. Move into more complicated choices, such as abstaining from or engaging in sexual activity.

  • Reassure young people that starting a discussion about HIV/AIDS does not mean you assume that they are having sex or using drugs.

  • Look to newspapers, magazines, radio and television for references to HIV/AIDS and ask what they think about it.

  • Films, videos and local events such as AIDS walks or fairs can serve as important conversation starters.

  • Provide resources such as a toll-free number in case there is a question you can't answer or a youth doesn't feel comfortable discussing these issues with you.

For more, please visit the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Center.

Source: American Association of World Health

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Last Editorial Review: 8/8/2002