If I Grow Up: Talking with Teens about AIDS, Love and Staying Alive


Teenagers are the overlooked heroes in the fight against AIDS – young soldiers of survival in a common battle, defending their right to believe in life.  These are their stories and poems.  These are their questions and hopes.  This is their voice.  As one teen puts it, “We need to feel the value of our own lives.”  In the words of another, “If my friend had AIDS – no cure, she’d have me, without fail.”  And still another, “Dear HIV, some of us will use you as an excuse to fly!”
Highlights include:

  • Scott’s story of the night in 1987 when he got infected with HIV.
  • Conversations with teens discussing topics ranging from sex and abstinence to death and suicide, as well as AIDS testing, how to say “no” and how to be a hero.
  • Heartwarming stories about some of the teens as they learn about AIDS and the value of life.
  • Poems written by the teens themselves.
  • Scott’s well researched theory as to why teens are putting themselves at risk for HIV and other STIs.

This book is for teenagers who need to be educated about AIDS.  It is also for parents and other adults who are concerned about the threat of this disease on today’s youth.

This book is for anyone who is growing up in a world where there is AIDS.

SKU: B002 Category:

Product Description


“If I Grow Up: Talking With Teens about AIDS, Love and Staying Alive is a surprising collection of lectures and stories Scott Fried has amassed in his many years’ quest to teach teenagers about AIDS and self-respect. Fried bravely takes the virus into the world of the adolescents, where even everyday issues can seem like life-or-death matters.

“Adults may not appreciate Frieds’ dramatic tone, but any 13-year-old (born before or after Rock Hudson died) will find a friend in him. AIDS is older than they are, so Fried knows not to insult with baby talk or scare them into abstinence. He accepts teens as they are, while helping them to realize that much more awaits them.

“Fried has a reputation as an effective speaker, but sometimes that fire goes out in this translation from classroom to book. Consequently, If I Grow Up might best be seen as an introduction to Fried’s techniques for reaching young adults. For even if his dramatic approach to dealing with the epidemic doesn’t grab you, the drama of being a hormone-driven teenager in the age of AIDS should.

“Fried’s experience with HIV has turned into much more than dealing with disease. He has come to view HIV as a force that challenges him to find meaning, go on living, and appreciate all he has.”

Joelle Asaro Berman
JVibe Magazine

View the full article here (PDF)

Dear Scott:

I finished your book on the same day that it was received and have since passed it on to one of my youth instructors and an associate at the American Red Cross. I cannot even begin to tell you how moved I was by what you and your kids had to say.

The poem on page 43 was given to a new acquaintance of mine who is HIV positive He accompanies our peer educator and me to area schools telling his story of how his wife was infected at 19, died at age 27 and what it is like to be left behind. (They found out they were positive 3 months before they were to be married.) Sometimes it is hard to orally express to someone what they mean to you and, especially in this situation, how helpless you feel. Sarah’s poem captured exactly what I was aiming for. What a mature 14 year-old she must be.

You have provided an excellent book for teens and adults alike. It helps people understand that without compassion, all the drugs in the world won’t matter when it comes to a person’s human needs. I wish you many years of good health. If you ever need a letter of recommendation, count me in!

Julie Hulst
Director of Volunteers and Youth Services
Director of HIV/AIDS Education
American Red Cross of Ottowa County

After tons of research on books in the “teen satisfaction and empowerment” genre, I realized that the only real thing out there that teens would actually read was your book and that they only person that they would actually listen to was you.

Joelle Asaro Berman
Editorial Assistant, BabagaNewz
Jewish Family & Life/JVIBE Magazine

4 reviews for If I Grow Up: Talking with Teens about AIDS, Love and Staying Alive

  1. admin

    “Dear Scott:

    My name is Sara and I am 15 years-old. Last month, on your trip to Israel, you lectured to the ‘native speakers’ class in the high school where my mother works, and that’s how I got your book.

    A week ago, I was deeply depressed: I recently realized that school isn’t the right place for me, so I quit and decided to study the Israeli matriculation by myself. I also left home (I currently live in my grandma’s attic) because my father thinks I am a total failure and I can no longer look him in the eyes.

    Most of my friends think that by leaving school I ‘irreversibly ruined my life,’ and ‘took the easy way out,’ but I know I was doing the right thing. A week ago, I had to face the consequences of my decisions, and it wasn’t easy at all. I was so sad and I couldn’t do anything for longer than five minutes, and when I stopped keeping myself busy I’d get flooded with disturbing thoughts. I was frustrated. I couldn’t sleep or eat. I was powerless and unable to help myself. I felt like I didn’t want to be around anymore and it scared me. So I decided to learn about life from the people who cherish it best: you and the people you tell about in your book.

    Your book helped me understand that there are good and caring people in the world; I just need to find them. It helped restore my faith in myself and others and reminded me of my hopes. I think that your book is a guide to understanding and loving life. It contains brilliant and useful ideas in a simple an innocent language. Not only did it change my life, it also prevented me from doing something terrible. Thank you.”
    – Sara, in Israel

  2. admin

    “In a chaotic world, your touching and honest words helped bring clarity to my life. There are so many teens out there craving direction and lacking confidence, but don’t know where to get it. Your book is the answer.”
    – Kristin, age 16

  3. admin

    “The last place I expected to spend the day and night was in the emergency room at the nearby hospital with my adult daughter. She was finally admitted at 8:30PM this evening. While they were giving her morphine and several antibiotics, she asked me to read to her. I haven’t read to her in many years. She has a daughter of her own who is now 6-1/2 years old.

    I started reading from If I Grow Up. I read to her the poems about life, written by teenagers. When I looked at the curtain that was drawn around her cubicle, I noticed that there were at least six pair of feet on the other side of the curtain facing in.

    After a while, I stopped, when my daughter fell asleep. Suddenly, two heads poked in through the curtain to ask what I was reading. They were touched by the poems, by the teenagers, by the hope in their voices.”
    – L.G., Florida

  4. admin

    “I have been reaching deep into my healing resources to try and find something that will reach and touch a student I’m working with. So I pulled If I Grow Up: Talking With Teens About AIDS, Love and Staying Alive off my bookshelf and began reading to her. She was transformed. And I subsumed under memories and warmth. So I wanted you to know that the power of your words, and even more so, the power of the kids’ words, is unparalleled.”
    – Beth Giladi

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *