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:



“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

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