WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 -- Concerned about the escalating rise in AIDS cases among young adults, federal health officials released new public service announcements for tv and radio on Thursday, featuring young adults speaking candidly about sex and the importance of protection. The campaign, 'Respect Yourself, Protect Yourself,' presents model behaviors that young adults, ages 18 to 25, can adopt to protect themselves from the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted diseases. The PSAs were produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing young adults talking candidly about abstaining from sex, communicating with sexual partners and parents about sex, and using latex condoms consistently and correctly during intercourse. 'One of the key things we have learned is that the messenger is oftentimes as important as the message,' said CDC director Dr. David Satcher. 'It is essential for young adults to see and hear their peers talking about how they protect themselves from HIV.' Release of the PSAs follows recent reports that AIDS cases have increased much more rapidly among people born in 1960 or later than among older adults. In announcing the new PSA campaign, Donna E. Shalala, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, noted AIDS has become the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages off 25 and 44. From 1993 to 1994, the number of AIDS deaths among people ages 25 to 44 rose from 28,100 to 30,300. 'While our AIDS prevention efforts have succeeded in stabilizing or even reducing the rate of infection among older Americans, they are not having the same kind of effect among young adults,' Shalala said.
'What we have is a generation in jeopardy,' she said. 'And it is up to us to take action now to reverse these troubling trends before we wipe out a new generation of leadership for this country. Topics mentioned among the 12 tv and 7 radio PSAs: --Abstinence, in which two women talk about their decisions to abstain from sexual intercourse. --Communication, in which young adults discuss the importance of talking about sex and protection, especially with parents. --Alcohol, in which a young woman discusses the importance of staying in control, even when drinking. --Buying condoms, in which young adults talk about buying and using condoms as protection against the AIDS virus. --Risky sex, in which young adults talk about how they realized they could be at risk for the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.