The Face of AIDS


When you think of a person infected with AIDS or HIV, who comes to mind? A man? If so, think again. “Today, women are one of the fastest-growing groups of people being infected with HIV, which is frightening,” said Sandra Thurman, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, in an interview with More than likely, the person contracting HIV today will be a woman of color under the age of 24.

Why? AIDS has long been stereotyped as a disease that strikes primarily gay men when, in fact, “women are more at risk biologically than men,” Thurman says, because their bodies provide a more hospitable environment for the virus. Also, she says, there was a misperception that promising drug therapies had brought the epidemic under control.

Though there are no real answers on how to stop this disease, sex education has been found to lower the rates of infection in the United States. Thurman said that when children were taught about HIV, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, they became sexually active at older ages.

But what about the practices of sexually active adults? 44 percent of the 65,000 female and male respondents said they had recently engaged in unprotected casual sex, while 51 percent had not. How have your attitudes on AIDS and HIV changed since then? Take our poll.

Poll results:

  • 1,154 people have voted

1. What is your gender?

  • 90% Female
  • 10% Male

2. How old are you?

  • 26% 31-40
  • 22% 21-25
  • 20% 26-30
  • 16% 41-50
  • 9% 15-20
  • 6% 51-60
  • 1% 60+

3. Have you ever engaged in unprotected casual sex?

  • 68% Yes
  • 31% No
  • 2% Not sure

4. Have you engaged in unprotected casual sex in the last six months?

  • 79% No
  • 20% Yes
  • 0% Not sure

5. Have you been tested for HIV or AIDS?

  • 54% Yes
  • 46% No

6. If yes, did you test positive?

  • 60% No
  • 39% Never tested
  • 1% Yes

7. Do you know anyone who is infected with HIV/AIDS?

  • 67% No
  • 21% Yes, a man
  • 10% Yes, both a man and a woman
  • 2% Yes, a woman

8. When do you think is the best age to start teaching children about safe sex?

  • 56% Elementary school
  • 39% Junior high
  • 3% High school
  • 1% Never
  • 1% College