AIDS and Adventist Youth

Speaker: Categories: Apr 12, 1997


[53min, 15sec / 28min, 1sec]


Just the mention of the acronym "AIDS" seems to elicit a response of both fear and judgment. To say that the disease is wide-spread would be a classic understatement. To say that SDAs, because of their lifestyle choices, are virtually immune to this epidemic would be a gross misstatement. Some will recall Dr. Harvey Elder's November, 1995, Forum presentation, "The Seventh-day Adventist Church Has AIDS."

Dr. Gary Hopkins, our April presenter, states: "Two years ago a research project was designed which intended to identify to what extent students attending SDA schools are at risk for contracting the virus that causes AIDS, a universally fatal disease. Parents were contacted for consent to involve their students in this research. A questionnaire was written and sixty-nine four-year SDA high schools participated by sequestering students and collecting the data. A total of 1748 students participated. This study represents the largest AIDS-behavioral research project ever conducted in a private school system."

The results of this study were reported in the July, 1996, issue of Ministry, International Journal for Pastors, which is the journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Ministerial Association. Stated another way, the findings and conclusions reached by Dr. Hopkins and his colleagues at Loma Linda University have been shared with pastors, both SDAs and others, worldwide!

What did the research data indicate? Are SDA youth who attend SDA schools less at risk? Is the tuition cost, in reality, a relatively inexpensive form of insurance? Does being an Adventist offer our youth, and perhaps their parents, some unique advantages against this fatal disease?


You may have noticed that a recent announcement of this meeting indicated that Dr. Joyce Hopp would be the presenter - - although Dr. Hopkins had been listed earlier. The reason: after scheduling the date, it appeared that Dr. Hopkins' new responsibilities at Andrews were going to require him to be overseas on April 12. Hence, he prevailed upon the chairperson of his DrPH dissertation committee, Dr. Joyce Hopp, to "cover" for him. But his travel plans changed, thus enabling him to present his research findings in person and to field the host of questions likely to be raised by an intensely listening audience.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities in School of Public Health at LLU and in the Behavioral Science Department at Andrews, Gary Hopkins is the Assistant Director of Health and Temperance for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. His duties include conducting research in the world church and conducting drug prevent ion seminars throughout the Adventist community. His itinerary over the next several months includes Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Myanmar (Burma), Norway, Spain, Rumania, and Germany. Certainly he must qualify as a frequent flyer! We are fortunate his schedule was changed so he could be with us.

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