This purpose of this post is to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people and to highlight the work young people are doing across the country to respond to the epidemic.
Today’s young people are one of the first generations to never know a world without HIV and AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24. Every month, 1,000 young people are infected with HIV and over 76,400 young people are currently living with HIV across the country. While there has been much talk about an AIDS-free generation, we know that this is not possible without focusing on our nation’s youth and their various intersections.
Here are some suggestions for youth that are at a high risk:
- Get tested for HIV, alone or with your partner. To find a testing site near you call the CDC National AIDS Hotline at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) / TTY: 1-888-232-6348 (24/7) or find the nearest testing center in your area/health department.
- If you have HIV, start treatment as soon as possible with HIV medicines (also known as antiretroviral therapy or ART), and stay on treatment. ART can lower the level of virus in your body enough to improve your health, prolong your life, and prevent you from spreading HIV to others. For enrollment in HIV Care:
- Get tested and treated for other STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, and insist that your partners do too. Being infected with other STDs makes you more likely to get HIV.
- Choose not to have sex or choose to have sex with one partner and agree to be sexually active only with each other. Both of you should get tested for HIV, and share your test results before you decide to have sex.
- Choose less–risky sexual behaviors. Anal sex, especially if you are the receptive partner, is the highest-risk sexual activity for getting HIV. Vaginal sex is much less risky, and oral sex carries much less risk than anal or vaginal sex
- Use latex male condoms or female condoms correctly every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Condoms are the only effective form of birth control that also helps reduce the risk of transmitting HIV and most other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Talk to your doctor about HIV medicines to prevent HIV infection (known as PrEP) if you routinely have sex with someone who has or may have HIV.
- See a doctor immediately if you have sex with someone who has or may have HIV if you are not already taking PrEP. Starting medicine (known as PEP) within three days after a possible exposure reduces the chance of getting HIV:
- Limit the number of people you have sex with. The fewer partners you have, the less likely you are to have sex with someone who is infected with HIV.
- Don’t share injection drug equipment, such as needles, syringes, works, or anything that might bring you into contact with someone else’s blood or bodily fluids.
HIV Care Connect is a program of the Illinois Public Health Association and is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health http://hivcareconnect.com