Adult Behavior Patterns that Contribute to the Spread of AIDS/HIV

Adult Behavior Patterns that Contribute to the Spread of AIDS/HIV

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It is during the ages of 18 and 24 that time of life that many adults are sexually active but not always in monogamous relationships. It is a time of life when one can easily contract either AIDS or another STD due to behavior. Young adults are working during the day and doing their socializing at night, and this socializing almost always includes substances such as alcohol and drugs to help alter their mood, or judgments. Thus causing the person to become easily overcome with doing “what feels right” and not “what is safe or will protect them.”
     Behavior is key in controlling AIDS. AIDS is a leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 25 and 44 ("Miss America" PG). More than 340,000 have already died from AIDS and The CDC estimates that between 40,000 and 60,000 Americans are becoming newly infected with HIV each year (PG). Estimates are that one quarter of all new HIV infections in the United States occur in people between the ages of 13 and 20 and many of these young people are gay or black (PG).

Since the 1990s the epidemic is now beginning to favor women (Ross 56). The epidemic is shifting toward women and although women accounted for 28% of HIV cases between 1981 and 1999, they represented about 32% of reported cases that occurred between June 1999 and July 2000 (56). In fact, the spread of AIDS is certainly attributable to behavior as it is suggested that when abstinence is practiced, or programs are launched that preach an absence of sex, AIDS rates droop. But other method of reducing AIDS and HIV results when "safe sex" is practiced.
     Colin Powell was criticized for suggesting that using condoms is better than not when engaging in sexual intercourse. The reasons for the criticism include the fact that people perceived the authority figure as endorsing sex, and further and most importantly, giving the false impression that condoms automatically prevent AIDS from spreading. While condoms do help, they do not completely protect people from contracting AIDS. It is still possible to get the disease while practicing "safe sex." While many do believe that condoms are very effective, the truth is that using condoms to prevent HIV "does not...eliminate all risk" ("A response" PG). Although it is the case that condoms are not 100% effective, they are certainly important in preventing AIDS and so one can say that safe sex behavior is important in the prevention of HIV and AIDS.

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     A survey had been taken to show that people with higher levels of education were more likely to believe that condoms are very effective in AIDS prevention ("Public" PG). Approximately 47% of college graduates report that condoms are very effective, as compared with 37% of those who had only completed high school (PG). Also, it has been noted that 28% of adults who did not complete high school believed in the effectiveness of the condom (PG). Age is further an important demographic in that reportedly 49% of 18 to 24-year-olds suggest that condoms are "very effective," as compared with 27% who are in the 55-64 age group (PG). Seemingly, younger people are more likely to believe that condoms are good protection, and while they are correct, they must realize that using condoms for AIDS prevention mandates its consistent and correct use. Young people are more likely to be lax about protection and so perception, while correct, may have drawbacks. The complaint--and which is why Powell got into trouble--is that abstinence works best and there is a false sense of security in believing that condoms are very effective.

     The above chart demonstrates that younger generations are more informed, but again, the information is a double edged sword. While the condom is effective, a person should not and cannot take its capacity for protection for granted.
There are those who find the idea of contracting AIDS either appealing, or at least the risk is somewhat tempting. There have been stories of orgies where one infected person is in the room and the thrill is similar to that of playing Russian Roulette. Of course, such risks are devastating to the spreading of AIDS. There is also some evidence that a section of the homosexual community exists that deliberately tries to get the AIDS virus ("Death Wish" 48). A practice called "bare backing " is engaging in anal sex without the benefit of condoms; here, the HIV-positive partner is considered a "gift giver," where someone seeking the virus is considered to be a "bug chaser " (48).

I can not understand why people would deliberately try to acquire a deadly disease, one Toronto "barebacked" named Paul explained that AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was and he adds: "... I'm a person that likes to play the odds...Yeah, people will think I'm nuts, and they're more than welcome to think I'm nuts. I'm taking back my sexual freedom " (48). Part of it is a desire for freedom not to worry about getting sick. Young adults are risk takers and so the younger set--say between 18 and 24--are probably at greatest risk (48).
     People try to protect themselves by using condoms and minimizing sexual contact. Some remain celibate until they are married. I have met a growing number of young adults who have made the choice to abstain from sexual intercourse. Young adults are most at risk due to the fact that they are more likely to have more than one sexual partner until they are older and marry. A program, which involves teenagers who have already engagement in sexual intercourse, are making a pact to become “born again virgins.” These young adults are getting involved in support youth groups that promote this type of responsible sexual responsibilities. My younger cousin who is very active within her church youth group helps to organize the outings and group meetings for a similar program within her church. She herself is still a true virgin and knows the importance of abstinence. She explained that the young teens in her group feel that by pledging and practicing abstinence they are getting a second chance at becoming responsible sexual adults in the future. They are more informed, but are also more likely to take risks. Because condoms are seen as very effective in preventing the spread of AIDS, they rely on it, not thinking about the slight risk. In any event, behaviors do affect outcome and risky behaviors can accelerate the spread of AIDS and HIV.


"AIDS actually begins ravaging the body." Death Wish II: dying to be HIV-positive. Report / Newsmagazine (Alberta Edition) 21 Jan 2002: 48.


"Miss America Takes On AIDS in America." US Newswire 9 Oct 1997:

Public Perceptions About HIV/AIDS in Delaware: 1995. 2002.

Ross, M. W. "SEX IN AMERICA." Psychology Today 2002, January/February: 56-61.

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