Page 9, 11th December 1998

11th December 1998
Page 9
Page 9, 11th December 1998 — Transmission of Aids/HIV among teenagers

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Transmission of Aids/HIV among teenagers

From Mrs Victoria Gillick Sir, One presumes that Prof. James O'Connell (Letters 4 Dec) is aware, and concerned, that acute sexually transmitted diseases are causing serious and prolonged ill-health to an ever-increasing proportion of teenage boys and girls in this country.

And presumably he does not object when government health policies target those core groups most at risk of acquiring the infections.

It is a puzzle therefore, that he should be so ill informed and apparently unconcerned about one of the deadliest of thesediseases — HIV/AIDS — and its commonest mode of transmission among teenagers.

The latest review of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Report on STDs among teenagers in England and Wales, tells it all.

Between 1985-1995 there were 597 reported cases of HIV among 12-19 year olds. Over 300 of these infections were sexually acquired, and three quarters of them were in boys, of which 93% were infected through sex between males.

The CDSR also states that "...The low levels of HIV infection among heterosexual teenagers...are consistent with there having been no substantial heterosexual transmission of HIV to teenagers in England and Wales."

In contrast, says the review, "the continuing transmission of HIV to homo/bisexual teenagers is a matter of considerable concern."

So much for Professor O'Carroll's contention that "it is the case that currently throughout the world, and in Britain as well, Aids is spread more through heterosexual than through homosexual intercourse."

If Professor O'Carroll really wishes to protect the young and vulnerable, particularly those living in the poorest parts of our inner cities, then he will oppose any attempts to reduce the homosexual age of consent to 16, since this would immediately increase the incidence of abuse, disease and early death among young boys.

Yours faithfully, VICTORIA GILLICK, Wisbech, Cambs.

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