Teen Pregnancy, HIV/AIDS Stirs Listener Reaction

The program's listeners have their say, offering feedback to recent stories about emergency room treatment for the mentally ill and the so-called pregnancy pact in Gloucester, Mass. Also, one listener shares his story about being tested for HIV.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the Tell Me More blogosphere and get a chance to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media man, is here with me. Hey Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey Michel. Well we started the week with a riveting story. There's a new report indicating that emergency rooms in the U.S. could be dropping the ball when it comes to caring for the mentally ill. Well a number of our listeners called and wrote to us with similar experiences. Here's Julia, who says she's not surprised.

JULIA (Caller): I am the sole care taker of my son who's 26 years old. He's had schizophrenia for 11 years. He's not doing well, he's not functional, he hardly ever goes out, delusional. It's just phenomenal the kind of treatment our mentally ill children have had to endure.

MARTIN: Thanks, Julia. We also got a lot of feedback about this week's Mocha Moms conversation. The moms were talking about the so called teen pregnancy pack in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Folks are still wondering why 17 girls at one school all seemed to decide to get pregnant in one year. Rachel, responding to another blogger's comments on our website, wonders if the answer lies in access to birth control.

RACHEL (Caller): Impulse control is not the answer to teen pregnancy. Refusing to tell people about sex won't prevent them from having sex. And denying young people education about sex and birth control won't keep them safe from sex, sexually-transmitted diseases, or pregnancy. What motivated these young women to choose to become mothers? Did they lack education or safe access to birth control?

HILL: Thanks, Rachel. And by the way good luck on that move to Missouri. Finally, today is National HIV Testing Day. And as a follow up to our conversation with actress Shirley Ralph, we asked listeners to share with us their thoughts and experiences about stigmas related to contracting the disease. Here's Adam.

ADAM (Caller): Many, many, many, many, years ago I was dating a girl when AIDS was very early, and I went, and I went with her to get tested several times. Single guys, married guys still do not understand. They seem to think it is mostly a homosexual disease. The college kids today - I'm a coach, lot of sports, they are not, you know, covering up and taking care of themselves.

MARTIN: Thank you, Adam, and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you Michel.

MARTIN: Remember to tell us more about what you think. You can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. That number again is 202-842-3522. Or go to the Tell Me More page at npr.org and blog it out.

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