Conquering Those Growing Pains
The question is an urgent one, with two thirds of ninth graders saying they had tried alcohol at least once, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Parents believe they are helpless," says Rosenbloom. But, he says, they can have an influence by talking to kids early, at least by middle school, about the dangers of reckless drinking; knowing who their kids are hanging out with; asking questions about what their kids are doing; paying attention to, say, changes in behavior or appearance; and using alcohol responsibly themselves.
All teenagers may soon need screening for the AIDS virus
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed that all teenagers beginning at age 13 be screened for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Current guidelines recommend testing primarily for people at high risk for the disease like injection drug users and homosexual men and their partners. The new guidelines, expected to be finalized this fall, would make HIV screening routine for everyone ages 13 to 64.
Why the change? About 25 percent of the estimated 1 million Americans currently infected with HIV don't know it, says Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention. "Knowing one's HIV status allows earlier access to effective treatment that results in a longer, healthier life," he says. If you're thinking that 13 is too young to be worried about HIV, think again. A 2005 CDC survey found that 47 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and another study found that nearly half of all sexually transmitted diseases were contracted by young people between the ages of 15 and 24.