Best, brightest failing to heed AIDS dangers

February 18, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- The country's best and brightest high school students have become more aware of the dangers of AIDS but are doing little to protect themselves against the deadly disease, according to a survey released yesterday.

Nearly all the 1,150 high school seniors who responded to the survey by Who's Who Among American High School Students said they know how acquired immune deficiency syndrome is contracted. But few of the students said they used condoms or changed their behavior to guard against getting the disease.

Among the 28 percent of surveyed students who indicated they were sexually active, 42 percent said they would continue to have sexual intercourse even if a condom were not available.

"These findings confirm our worst fears -- high school students see themselves as invincible," said Paul Krouse, publisher of the Who's Who student directory. "If our best and brightest kids aren't using the information they have to their advantage, what does this say for the average student?"

The survey was distributed to 3,000 demographically selected 1990-1991 seniors in Who's Who just three weeks after basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson revealed in November he had contracted the AIDS virus.

The results showed little change in the sexual practices of the teen-agers despite their increased AIDS awareness and concern following Mr. Johnson's announcement.

The proportion of teen-agers who were "worried" or "very worried" about getting the human immunodeficiency virus nearly doubled -- from 12 percent to 22 percent -- after Mr. Johnson's announcement.

But the number of students who said they "never" use condoms actually increased -- from 8 percent to 12 percent.

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