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In addition to the usual growing pains associated with adolescence, African-American teens face a unique set of issues: skyrocketing HIV infection rates, racial profiling, and an increased risk of developing diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Faced with such woes, some teens seek escape through drinking, drugs, and partyingthrowing their hands up both literally and figuratively. Often, books that address issues facing black teenagers either exploit the negative or offer up some complicated sociological portrait of what it means to be young and black in America, which isn’t immediately useful to a 16-year-old. Debrah Harris-Johnson’s The African-American Teenagers Guide to Personal Growth, Health, Safety, Sex and Survival addresses something that too few similar publications don’t: practical solutions. Harris-Johnson offers teens guidance and advice on topics as varied as homosexuality, healthy cooking, and caring for elderly family members. Because every teen in America now knows exactly how to put a condom on, Harris-Johnson skips the mechanics and deals with the larger issuessuch as self-esteem and social stigmathat tend to prevent teens from implementing the practical knowledge they already possess. Although sections on umbrella safety and crossing railroad tracks seem out of place, those on bombs and informal wills are frighteningly relevant. The author even throws in a piece on masturbation that would make former Attorney General Joycelyn Elders beam with pride. Debrah Harris-Johnson appears at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1, at Peek A Boo Books, 14828 Baltimore Ave., Laurel. Free. (301) 483-4447. (Sarah Godfrey)