Bee’s class has been studying microbiology and the topic of HIV came up. It was clear that the students had some misconceptions, so I offered to come in and talk to the class. I’m honestly impressed that her teacher thought it was a great idea. After I made the offer, I got a bit nervous. What if they ask questions I can’t answer? I suppose they will, but my purpose is to talk, not so much about the science of HIV, but about the social issues.
There are many simple things that kids don’t know. For instance:
HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.
You can’t tell that somebody has HIV by looking at them.
With good medical care, people with HIV can have long lives.
They can marry, have children, have great careers, and pursue their dreams.
And the list goes on.
I plan to talk about how to be wise about staying healthy. For instance, I used to teach my children, “Never, never touch another person’s blood.” Recently, my friend who is a pediatric infectious disease specialist told me that they now teach kids, “If it’s wet, and it’s not yours, don’t touch it.” That may sound a little crude, but it’s good advice.
And while I’m on the topic, the other thing I’ve taught my kids is never share toothbrushes or razors. How many times when I was a teen did I use my friends’ razors? Too many, I’m sure! We even apply that within our family. Each girl has her own, clearly labeled razor – no sharing. The big boys also have their own razors.
These are good basic instructions for life. It’s not just about HIV; Hepatitis B and C, and other diseases can also be transmitted through blood.
On a humorous note, Bee asked if she could pick out my clothes for today. I agreed, but I drew the line at letting her do my hair. She makes me laugh. She knows that she has more fashion sense than I do, and far better make up skills.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
On a completely different topic, if you are considering joining us at the Embracing Orphans Retreat in Colorado, be sure to register in the next two days to get the discounted price. It’s going to be a great retreat with wonderful ladies; I hope you can make it.
[Update: The talk went well. I was impressed with the good questions asked by the kids. We talked about transmission, universal precautions, practical safety matters, why meds are more available in the US than the developing world, the importance of good health care for people living with HIV, stigma, and more. After I left I thought of more I wish I had said, but overall, I am pleased. We'll see what Bee says when she gets home.]
Have a good day, friends.