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AIDS and Teens

December 29, 1987

AIDS is certainly a threat to sexually active teen-agers, as Neil Schram points out so effectively (Op-Ed, Dec. 15). But it must be added that other disasters can also result from ignorance and irresponsibility among our children: pregnancy, for one, at this point and sexually transmitted diseases that, though perhaps less deadly than AIDS, are far more widespread.

In our efforts to educate young people on these vital concerns, Planned Parenthood takes into account that teens tend to deny their own mortality. We find that teens--particularly heterosexual ones--feel immune from AIDS. Most understand, however, that pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases are immediate, ever-present possibilities.

Schram's contention that the burden of prevention must fall on the schools also needs qualification. Parents can talk to their children--if given help in bridging the communication gap. Churches and synagogues can help save lives as well as souls by educating as well as preaching.

And students themselves can be the most effective teachers of all. Last October, Planned Parenthood/Los Angeles joined hands with the Los Angeles Unified School District and other co-sponsors to conduct a forum on "Teen-age Sexual Responsibility." High school student leaders learned about not only the perils of irresponsibility but the means and methods of reaching their fellow students with the facts.

The point is, the job of protecting youngsters from disease, pregnancy and psychological damage must be shared by many. Parents, schools, religious groups, governmental agencies, private groups and students all have a role to play.

REV. DR. J. HUGH ANWYL

Executive Director

Planned Parenthood/Los Angeles

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