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Friday, 9 November, 2001, 19:38 GMT
40% of boys 'never heard of HIV'
Children may not know that HIV exists
Two in five boys have never heard of Aids or HIV, says a survey which paints an unhealthy picture of schoolyard health.

"Young People in 2000" was compiled by the Schools Health Education Unit by quizzing more than 42,000 young people aged between 10 and 15.

In addition to the 40% of boys who had never heard of HIV or Aids, more boys than girls said they would not take care to avoid infection with the virus.

And 57% of older males said they did not know where they could go to get free condoms.

An Aids charity has voiced its worries about the lack of knowledge about HIV among today's youth.

Lisa Power, Head of Policy for the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "Teenagers today were babies when the 'Don't Die of Ignorance' advertisements and leaflets were used in the mid 1980s, so HIV awareness amongst today's younger generation is low.

"We don't want young people to think that HIV is around every corner - but they should be aware of the genuine risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections."

Other results from the survey revealed that a quarter of the males had drunk alcohol in the previous week, and one in five said they they either definitely would, or might smoke when older.

Food problems

Young girls displayed some problems with food choices and weight control.

Of the 14-15 year old females, 21% said they had had nothing for breakfast on the morning they were surveyed, and 15% had eaten no lunch on their previous day at school.

We don't want young people to think that HIV is around every corner - but they should be aware of the genuine risks of HIV

Lisa Power, Terrence Higgins Trust
Even though only 15% of males and females of that age are clinically overweight, 60% of the girls and 26% of the boys said they would like to lose weight.

In terms of general health, more than half of the pupils reported wheezing and have trouble breathing when they run.

A third of the males and almost half the girls said they had experienced disturbed sleep through coughing.

See also:

26 Jun 00 | Health
Sperm heating could foil HIV
01 Jun 01 | Health
UK HIV cases 'at all-time high'
04 Jun 01 | Health
Aids: 20 years on
08 Jun 01 | Health
Poor diet 'boosts virus power'
16 Jul 01 | Health
HIV linked to social exclusion
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