What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Imagine your body as an army. HIV attacks the part of your body that fights disease (the immune system), and makes the immune system not work right. Sometimes there are no signs of HIV at first. You can’t tell if you have HIV until you get a blood test. Also, many people with HIV look healthy and can still transmit HIV.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12,000 youth were infected with HIV in 2010.
Is there a cure for HIV?
No. There is no cure for HIV. But, some medicines can make you feel better and stay healthy.
What is AIDS?
AIDS is the last stage of HIV. It stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, which means the immune system is damaged and allows the person with AIDS to experience more severe illnesses. Today HIV is not curable, but it is treatable. Contracting HIV does not automatically mean you have AIDS.
Young People and HIV
Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent 26% of new HIV infections each year. A little more than half (54 percent) of new infections among young gay and bisexual males are in African Americans. 60 percent of these young people with HIV do not know they are infected, so they don’t get important early treatment and also can unknowingly pass HIV on to others.
You can protect yourself from HIV–learn the risks, know how to prevent infection, and get tested.
How do I get HIV?
HIV is passed to sex partners through blood, semen (cum), seminal fluid (pre-cum), and vaginal fluids.
Vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom is the main way people get HIV. HIV can infect anyone if they have unprotected sex or share drug needles with infected partners. Using condoms prevents your partner’s blood, seminal fluid, semen, and vaginal fluids from getting in your body. Those bodily fluids have HIV. Even in oral sex, there should be some plastic or latex cover or barrier between you and your partner. This barrier keeps you from your partner’s bodily fluids.
You can get HIV from direct contact, like having vaginal, anal, or oral sex or sharing injection drug needles and syringes. You can also get HIV from indirect contact, like when pregnant mothers can pass HIV to their babies during childbirth or breastfeeding.
How do I find out if I have HIV?
Sometimes the signs of HIV look the same as the signs of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some people don’t show signs of HIV for a long time.
The only way to tell if you have HIV is to get an HIV test. You can get a test from a doctor’s office, health departments, Planned Parenthood, community clinics, and college health centers. You can easily search for a clinic near you.
IF YOU NEED HELP TO STOP TAKING DRUGS: CALL National Drug and Alcohol Hotline for help: 1-800-662-43457.
More information about HIV transmission: