HIV AIDS Stigma and education

HIV & Youth

Youth: The Center of the Epidemic

Young people remain at the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in terms of rates of infection, vulnerability, impact, and potential for change. You have grown up in a world changed by AIDS but many still lack comprehensive and correct knowledge about how to prevent HIV.

Do You Know How to Make Sure You’re Not One of Them?

People with HIV carry the virus in their body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. The virus can spread only if these HIV-infected fluids enter the bloodstream of another person. The most common ways that people become HIV-infected are:


  • Unprotected sexual intercourse (either vaginal or anal) with someone who has HIV.
  • Unprotected oral sex with someone who has HIV.
  • Sharing needles or syringes (including those used for steroids) with someone who has HIV.

When I was younger I thought I was invincible…  I had served my country as a
U.S. Marine. I was out having fun. I was alive. I was diagnosed with AIDS at 26. It can take up to 8 to 12 years for AIDS to develop after a person has contracted the HIV virus. That means I may have been infected the FIRST time I had sex.

Do You Think You Can Tell if Someone Has HIV or AIDS?

You can’t tell if someone has HIV or AIDS by looking. A person with HIV/AIDS can appear completely healthy. But anyone with HIV can infect other people, even if no symptoms are present.

If you’re not sexually active, you’ve already eliminated the most common cause of HIV among teens. But if you have made the decision to have sexual intercourse (or oral sex), you need to protect yourself.  Read more – How can HIV be Prevented…

I have only been with 3 people. Being faithful in a relationship is important to me. But that didn’t stop me from becoming infected. It is sooo important to understand that you only KNOW what you have done.


Do You Think There’s a Cure for HIV/AIDS?

AIDS is still a fatal disease for which there is no cure and no vaccine. New medications are helping many people with HIV/AIDS live longer, healthier lives, but the combination or “cocktail” treatments don’t work for everyone. They’re very expensive and often cause serious side effects. And because HIV mutates (or changes its genetic structure) constantly, the virus often develops resistance, and the medications become ineffective. In the U.S., 10% to 20% of people newly infected with HIV are acquiring strains of the virus that don’t respond to the best available treatments. The bottom line? Don’t have sex without a condom.

Do You Know the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). When HIV infects someone, the virus enters the body and begins to multiply and attack immune cells that normally protect us from disease. Eventually the body’s immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off so-called “opportunistic infections” and other illnesses, ranging from pneumonia and cancer to blindness and dementia. It’s only when someone with HIV begins to experience these specific infections and illnesses that they’re diagnosed with AIDS.

Do You Understand Why It’s Important to Know if You’re HIV-Infected?

Even in the early stages of HIV infection, you can take concrete steps to protect your long-term health. Beginning medical care before you begin to get sick may give you many more years of healthy life than you otherwise would have. And, of course, knowing you’re HIV-positive will allow you to take the necessary precautions to prevent others from becoming infected.

Can You Name Some of the Ways That HIV Isn’t Transmitted?

HIV is not an easy virus to pass from one person to another. It is not transmitted through food or air (for instance, by coughing or sneezing). There has never been a case where a person was infected by a household member, relative, co-worker, or friend through casual or everyday contact such as sharing eating utensils and bathroom facilities or hugging and kissing. (Most scientists agree that while HIV transmission through deep or prolonged “French” kissing might be possible, it’s extremely unlikely.)

Mosquitos, fleas, and other insects do not transmit HIV. In the U.S., screening the blood supply for HIV has virtually eliminated the risk of infection through blood transfusions, and you can’t get HIV from giving blood at a blood bank or other established blood collection center. Sweat, tears, vomit, feces, and urine do contain HIV, but have not been reported to transmit the disease (apart from two cases involving transmission from fecal matter via cut skin).

The bottom line is that you should treat someone with HIV or AIDS the same as anyone else. In fact, they need your friendship and support more than ever. Just think how you would feel in their place.

How Do You Stop the Cycle of Stigma and Infection in Your Community?

  • Learn more about HIV/AIDS so you can respond with compassion and not fear
  • Speak or Text Out LoudWork to end fear, stigma and discrimination by educating others. Talk about HIV, how it is spread and how it is treated
  • Learn about HIV Prevention, practice it and take part in prevention efforts
  • Welcome people with HIV/AIDS, their families, friends and caregivers into your daily life and activities


HIV Among Youth in the US

Protecting a Generation

The following information came directly from the CDC website;

About 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year, and 1 in 4 is 13 to 24 years old. Youth make up 7% of the more than 1 million people in the US living with HIV. About 12,000 youth were infected with HIV in 2010. The greatest number of infections occurred among gay and bisexual youth. Nearly half of all new infections among youth occur in African American males.

The risk for HIV for most youth begins when they start having sex or start injecting drugs. HIV causes a serious infection that, without treatment, leads to AIDS and early death. All youth should know how HIV is transmitted and prevented, understand what puts them at risk for HIV, and be tested if they are at risk.


Many people get infected with HIV as a teen or young adult

New HIV infections in youth in 2010
  • About 1 in 4 (26%) of all new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24 years. About 4 in 5 of these infections occur in males.
  • Nearly 60% of new infections in youth occur in African Americans, about 20% in Hispanics/Latinos, and about 20% in whites.
  • Over half (54%) of new infections among young gay and bisexual males are in African Americans.
  • About 87% of young males got HIV from male to- male sex, 6% from heterosexual sex, 2% from injection drug use and about 5% from a combination of male-to-male sex and injection drug use.
  • About 86% of young females got HIV through heterosexual sex and 13% from injection drug use.
  • More new infections occurred among young African American males than in any other group of youth by race/ethnicity and sex.
Most youth are not getting tested for HIV
  • About 60% of youth with HIV do not know they are infected and so don’t receive treatment, putting them at risk for sickness and early death. These youth can also unknowingly pass HIV to others.
  • Young men are far more likely than young women to have HIV and are also less likely to get tested.
  • African American youth are more likely to get tested for HIV than youth of other races or ethnicities.
  • Youth who report being at risk for HIV are also more likely to get tested, but still many youth at risk have never been tested.
Many factors put youth at risk
  • The risk for HIV for most youth begins when they start having sex or injecting drugs. (A small number of children are born with HIV.)
  • For both males and females, having sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol can increase risky behaviors that could lead to becoming infected with HIV.
  • The risk for getting HIV is higher in communities where a higher percentage of people already have HIV because partners are more likely to be infected.
    • African Americans have a greater burden of HIV than other racial or ethnic groups in the US so they are at higher risk.
    • Gay and bisexual men are 40 times more likely to have HIV than other men. Research has shown that young gay and bisexual males who have sex with older partners are at a greater risk for HIV infection. This is because an older partner is more likely to have had more sexual partners or other risks, and is more likely to be infected with HIV.
  • Less than half (44%) of gay and bisexual males in high school used condoms the last time they had sex.
Preventing risky behaviors in youth
  • Many effective programs reduce risky behaviors for youth (see Prevention education for youth can be provided in the home, in schools, and in community and web-based programs.
  • Youth, particularly those at high risk, should be taught early about HIV prevention with information they can understand and use. This includes education about risks and skills to help delay sex and prevent HIV infection.
  • Youth who are sexually active can reduce their risk of HIV infection by choosing to stop having sex. They can also limit their number of sex partners, not have sex with an older partner who may be more likely to already have HIV, and use a condom every time.
  • All youth at risk (sexually active or injection drug users) need to be tested and know where to get a confidential HIV test. Testing is the first step to getting medical care and treatment that can improve health, save lives, and prevent the spread of HIV.
DOAttend LGBTQ groups on campus or in your community to learn and ask questions in a supportive and safe environment. Take as much time as you need to come to conclusions, and even then, remember that you are an ever-evolving person whose identity may evolve as well.

DON’TDo not feel like you have to come out immediately. Your identity belongs to you and you alone and should be shared when and if you are comfortable. Do not let the pressure to “fit in” make you feel like you can’t be honest with yourself.

Who’s At Risk?

Number of new HIV Infections among youth by sex and race/ethnicity—United States, 2010

Of the 12,200 new infections which occurred among youth in 2010, 10,100 were among young men and 2,100 were among young women. An estimated 7000 newly infected youth were blacks/African Americans (5600 young men and 1400 young women). An estimated 2,390 newly infected youth were Hispanics/Latinos (2100 young men and 290 young women). An estimated 2380 were whites (2100 young men and 280 young women.)

CDC. Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors Among Youths – United States. MMWR 2012:61

HIV Among Youth in the U.S.

Young gay and bisexual males at greatest risk for HIV

Most new HIV infections in youth (about 70%) occur in gay and bisexual males; most are African Americans.

Sexually active young gay and bisexual males

  • Have higher risk for getting HIV if they are having sex with older or multiple partners, using drugs or alcohol, or not using condoms during every sexual encounter.
  • Should get an HIV test at least every year. Those at greater risk could benefit from testing as often as every 3 to 6 months.
  • Aren’t always getting HIV prevention education that is accurate and effective.
  • For HIV information for youth, contact your local community health center or state health department, or visit CDC’s website ( or msmhealth/).

HIV Affects Everyone

  • Risk for HIV
  • not knowing the fact or personal risk
  • having sex
  • alcohol or drug use with sex
  • sex with older partners who may be more likely to be infected
  • injecting drugs
  • no condoms
  • not tested
  • not treated

What Can Be Done

Icon: Youth

Youth can:

  • Get the facts about HIV and understand their risk.
  • Get tested for HIV. Contact 1-800-CDC-INFO or text your zip code to Knowit (566948) or go to for more information and testing locations.
  • Talk with parents, doctors, and other trusted adults about HIV, sexual health, and concerns about depression, drugs or alcohol.
  • Resist pressure to have sex or inject drugs. Do not pressure others to engage in risky behaviors.
  • Sexually active youth can reduce their risk by choosing to stop having sex, limiting their number of sex partners, not having sex with an older person who may be more likely to already have HIV, and using a condom every time. Don’t have sex while using drugs or alcohol.
  • Participate in HIV prevention programs, share HIV prevention information with friends and partners, and support other youth in protecting themselves against HIV.
  • If you have HIV, get support, seek treatment, and stay in care to remain healthy and prevent passing the virus to others.

Icon: Parents and families

Parents and families can:

  • Talk with youth about HIV prevention.
  • Ask your doctor about HIV testing and prevention for your youth, and ask your insurer if HIV screening is available without a co-pay, as required by the Affordable Care Act for most health plans.
  • Engage in HIV education programs and support safe environments in schools for all youth.
  • Make sure your community offers testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as treatment for youth needing it.

Health care provider

Health care providers can:

  • Follow current HIV testing and treatment guidelines and test youth at risk for HIV. Sexually active young gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year. People in communities with more HIV infections may benefit from being tested more often.
  • Educate parents and youth about sexual development, what puts youth at risk, and how to prevent HIV.
  • Provide HIV prevention services tailored for youth and protect patient confidentiality.

Icon: Everyone

Everyone can:

  • Get the facts about HIV and understand your risk. Get tested for HIV and other STIs. If you have HIV, get treatment and stay in care to remain healthy and prevent passing the virus to others.
  • Engage in community and web-based education and other effective programs to prevent HIV and STIs among youth, particularly youth at highest risk.
  • Combat the stigma and discrimination that keep young people, particularly young gay and bisexual males, from prevention and treatment services.
  • Find out more about what CDC is doing about HIV at and

Real Talk on Love and Intimacy During College

The Facts: Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Health in College

Is it safer to double-up on birth control methods, like using two condoms during sex?

Some kinds of “doubling up” are safer than others. For example, using condoms while also taking birth control will function as two layers of defense against pregnancy. Scarleteen’s “Buddy System” gives an extensive breakdown of the effectiveness of different contraceptive combinations.

However, using two condoms (sometimes called “double-bagging”) during sex is actually less effective: friction created between the two condoms makes them both more likely to rip or break. This can happen when using two external condoms or when using one external condom with one internal condom.

Can intrauterine devices (IUDs) and other similar, long-acting removable birth controls cause infertility?

No. IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy once properly implanted (they have a fail rate of less than one percent) and have no proven long-lasting effects once removed.

Is “pulling out” an effective birth control method?

“Pulling out,” also known as the “withdrawal method,” involves removing the penis from the vagina prior to ejaculation in the hopes of preventing any sperm from entering the vaginal canal. In theory, this should keep sperm from meeting the egg. Unfortunately pulling out is significantly less effective than other contraceptives like the pill and condoms. Sperm may be present in pre-ejaculate and the timing can be difficult to perfect. Ultimately this method is not an effective contraceptive.

Birth control pills can only be taken for a certain number of years before causing permanent damage, right?

No. With the exception of the birth control shot (known as Depo), users can stay on The Pill for as long as necessary or desired. There are generally more benefits to staying on birth control than drawbacks, but always talk to a gynecologist or other prescribing doctor about the risks.

Do antibiotics make birth control less effective?

Generally speaking, no, but talk to your doctor about it if you are prescribed antibiotics. Some specific prescriptions, like those used to treat meningitis and tuberculosis, are known to hinder The Pill’s effectiveness. The effect that other antibiotics have on birth control varies from user to user.

Love and Intimacy in College

College is the first time many students have the opportunity to explore romance, sex, intimacy and deeper aspects of their personal identity. Students may encounter a variety of situations that are new to them, such as long-distance relationships if they go to college in another city or state while dating someone from home. Below are some vitals do’s and don’ts for topics ranging from asking someone on a date to taking emergency contraceptives.

For more information: College Student Intimacy Guide –