Teens and HIV/AIDS
It can be hard to reach teens with health and safety information, because many of them believe "it can't happen to me. " Even so, it's very important that you talk with your teen about HIV/AIDS to help protect him or her from the disease.
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS.
- AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
- HIV weakens the body's ability to fight germs and disease.
- While treatment options are helping people with AIDS to live longer, there is still no cure for AIDS.
- Most people develop AIDS about 10 to 15 years after becoming infected with HIV.
- Between 1990 and 1995 the incidence of AIDS among people ages 13-25 years old rose by almost 20%.
Tips for Parents
Tell your teen about ways people can and cannot be infected with HIV.
Help protect your teen from HIV/AIDS.
As a parent of a teen, you have the opportunity to influence your child's health behaviors. You can do this by sharing this information and helping him or her develop skills to avoid behaviors that may lead to infection with HIV.
Remind your teen that...
- Not having sex (abstinence) and not sharing needles of any kind (for example, for drug use, body piercing, tattoos) are the surest ways to avoid HIV infection.
- Anyone can become infected with HIV by having unprotected sex even just once with an infected person.
- If a person chooses to have sex, using a latex condom (rubber) correctly every time will greatly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.
- You can't tell if people are infected with HIV by looking at them. Many people who have HIV do not even know they are infected. A blood test is the only way to know for sure whether a person is infected with HIV.
- Alcohol and other drugs affect decision-making skills and may make a person more likely to take risks that can lead to HIV infection.
- You are willing to listen and talk if he or she is thinking about becoming sexually active.
Talk with your teen about ways to handle peer pressure
Talk with your teen about how to avoid risky situations and to refuse sex and drugs in ways that allow him or her to fit in with peers. To feel comfortable talking openly with you, your teen needs to know that you will not punish him or her for being honest.
Ways a person cannot get infected with HIV
HIV is not spread by casual contact. This means a person cannot get HIV from:
- Going to school with someone who has HIV
- Holding hands
- Casual kissing
- Playing ball
- Sharing eating utensils
- Using public toilets
- Mosquito bites
- Donating blood
Ways a person can get infected with HIV
HIV is transmitted through the exchange of blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. HIV may be transmitted in the following ways:
- Having unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a person who has HIV.
- Injecting drugs with a syringe that has already been used by a person who has HIV.
- Sharing infected needles for body piercing or tattooing.
- An infected mother can pass HIV on to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth, or by breastfeeding.
Reprinted with the permission of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. 2008 Palo Alto Medical Foundation. All rights reserved.
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