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High School Establishes HIV-Testing Center After Exposure

Normandy High School in St. Louis, MO, sent notes home with students this week warning them of a potential outbreak of HIV. The county health department traced a positive test back to the high school and determined that several students may have been exposed, the first time such an investigation had led to a school, according to officials. The understandably frightening newsletter, much more serious than the "head lice" letters of yore, has caused a panic.

The health department spokesman said, "There is concern, but we really don't want to raise alarms here. This is not some major new outbreak or method of transmission, and there's no evidence to suggest it was deliberately being spread." Despite his efforts at reassurance, speculation over who has it is rampant. The school is establishing a testing center, though the mostly sexually-active student body is split over whether to get tested, many are opting to even though according to one student, "most of them know to use condoms."

The school fears the stigma of the publicity with one junior saying, "But now people are going to say, 'He goes to Normandy, he has AIDS.'" Currently about five percent of HIV cases in St. Louis are diagnosed to teenagers. Is transparency and testing in the school the safest and smartest idea? What about privacy implications? How did we make the jump from head lice to HIV?


Join The Conversation
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
just picking the fem.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
Hmmm...I would have the same expectations for my girls and boys. Were you specifically saying "women in this day and age" or were you just picking the feminine.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Jessie, I would of course teach my child about what is out there STD Wise. I would absolutely tell them that I am against them having premarital sex, and why. And if I am raising them the way I want them to be they will know by then what I expect out of them , and the proper way a woman in this day and age should be acting like. I will not allow my child to be put in a compromising position, because that is my role as the adult, to protect them. After they leave my house, its up to them , and hopefully they retained that knowledge and will make the best choices.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I don't think there is anything wrong with teaching your children abstinence CG. I just think its important they get sex education too. I personally don't believe in adult abstinence, but I do believe in teen abstinence. Between poor impulse control and bad decisions made and the lack of maturity needed to really talk about what they want and enjoy sex and their inability to handle the emotional aspect, etc. I hope that they would wait and listen to my advice, but I'd want to make sure they understand about STD's and all the important information (even the messy stuff school can't tell them) so they're safe if they do choose to make that decision. And I say choose not because I believe teens have all these freedoms, but because as much as I would like to you can't control everything you teen does. Now I don't support abstinence ONLY education in schools.
ceej ceej 8 years
You might find that the reason you aren't seeing concerts and benefits for Americans with HIV and Aids is because you have adequate drug regimes in your country that keep people alive. I suppose your health insurance problems might make it difficult for some members of the community to access these drugs. My sister works in this field in the UK and likens it to diabetes in terms of management. The incidence of people in the western world moving from HIV to Aids is very low nowadays. Safe sex when it's practiced also prevents HIV infection. Most African countries don't have the money or resources to tackle this and some have Governments who will not acknowledge the problem, think Mugabe. I find it unfortunate that this high school has had to go public but maybe that will raise the issue in more households and the safe sex message can be reinforced by parents as well as teachers.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I agree that we need to push for America first on this issue, but I'm very much a push for America first on most issues.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
I'm going to go further in saying that the thought that because I live here and not there that I'm not at as much risk or because I'm this or that is the very reason that we are in this crisis. I also have deep feelings on why we aren't attacking this issue and doing charity concerts etc for Americans with HIV/AIDS and the insane impact it's having on the African American/Latino communities. This is one topic that I have to say we need to put Country First!
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Small towns are not any less dangerous when it comes to the to the HIV/AIDS crisis actual certain ethnic groups in small towns in are more susceptible to HIV due to the lack of education and male/female population disparities. I think it's great that they are addressing this public health issue as such if it was an outbreak of anything else meningitis, chicken pox the same measures would be taken, it's sad that the stigma of this disease would cause students not to get testing and cause others to view these actions taken by the school as something to be alarmed over.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
lol, I'm just going off a conversation, or lecture rather, after I said the exact thing you did.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Let her jump, I am not saying it should be taught in schools. I am saying what i will teach my child in my house. I can still do that right? they havent taken that away too? I talked to my niece this weekend , who is 11, about buying a skirt that was too short for her, that I thought it was innappropriate and why, and she actually listened and agreed in the end. I am sure there are parents out there who would have just bought the darn thing knowing it was not a good idea, but "who are they" to say whats trendy right?
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
every time you have sex you run the risk of catching an STD... that's why you use a condom. the testing center is a good thing, the kids who've had sex will get tested, and the kids who haven't will be reminded that it's a serious choice and the proper precautions should always be taken.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
CG, steph will jump all over you for that.
jenhintz jenhintz 8 years
Privacy and stigma be damned, these kids need to get tested. I'm of the school of thought that everyone, no matter what their age, relationship or sexual status, race, potential exposure (or lack thereof), whatever, ought to get an HIV test every year as part of a regular physical.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Teens think they are immortal. This is why I will teach my child abstinance and tell them the truth about the potential consequences of sexual activity, not only can you lose your self worth, but you can also lose your life.
bellaressa bellaressa 8 years
Sometimes, Small towns have the same problems as big cities. Don't be fooled to believe it's all in big cities.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
This should be plastered in our faces. Every channel, every paper, every website. Every teen should see this.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Thank God I live in a small town and don't have quite the problem with this, as a compared to a major city.
juju4 juju4 8 years
Wow, I live in STL and heard this story here first! Way to go Citizen. Anyway, what I hope the outcome would be is that those students that are sexually active will 1) be less casual with their sexual encounters, and 2) be as safe as possible when they do engage in sex. For some young people, I think they always feel that it could never happen to them....but maybe each time they think about not using a condom, they will consider that their partner might have HIV.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
Things seem so different now. Having kids in this world is just scary.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I work with HIV infected teens as well as AIDS infected teens that are blatantly practicing unsafe sex and having babies along the way. There are ways to report it, and inform the public, but the infected person must tell us the truth and more often than not they say they are practicing safe sex...when they are not. There are so many laws in place for physicians to report a possible outbreak, its just so much to go through.
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