Many parents hesitate when it comes to discussing underage drinking and/or sexual behavior with their adolescents. Perhaps they are embarrassed or feel that their daughters or sons are not at-risk. According to data from a “Monitoring the Future” national survey, about 75% of teens try alcohol before graduating from high school. The harsh reality is that many young people and parents are uninformed about how powerful drugs and alcohol can be. Being under the influence can lead to many poor choices among 15- through 17-year-olds:
- 51% say that they are personally concerned that they might “do more” sexually than they planned to because they were drinking or using drugs.
- Approximately four million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) each year.
- Among youth, minorities and teenage girls have been particularly hard hit by HIV/AIDS. Girls now make up 57% of people, aged 13-19, who are infected with HIV.
Drug abuse and addiction have been linked with HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Although injection drug use is well known in this regard, the role that non-injection drug abuse (such as alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), etc.) plays in the spread of HIV is less recognized. It is partly due to the addictive and intoxicating effects of many drugs, which can alter judgment and inhibition, leading people to engage in impulsive and unsafe behaviors. Poor judgment and risky behavior can put a person at risk for getting HIV; drug and alcohol intoxication affect judgment and can lead to unsafe sexual practices, which put people at risk for getting HIV or transmitting it to someone else.
If you are a Latina between the ages of 25 and 50 years old, live in Orange County, and would like to participate in the Madres Unidas program, please contact your local Santa Ana Unified School District campus to see if they offer the Madres Unidas program; you may also contact Martha Madrid directly at Project Youth at (714) 480-1925, ext. 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.