HIV and Aids is a serious problem that affects adults, young people and children alike. HIV stands for ‘Human Immunodeficiency Virus’ which causes Aids. Aids, on the other hand, stands for ‘Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome’. Aids breaks down the body’s defenses so the body is unable to fight off some illnesses.
The HIV virus can be passed on through the exchange of blood, semen and vaginal fluids. This usually occurs during sexual intercourse and sharing needles with an infected person; and babies being born to a mother who is HIV positive. Other forms of spreading are through blood transfusions; however, this is very rare.
Contrary to common belief, HIV is not spread through kissing, shaking hands or hugging an infected person.
It is very important to always practice safe sex and avoid having casual sex. HIV can be prevented by always using a condom during sexual intercourse including oral and anal sex. Taking illegal drugs, especially those that are injected can increase the risk of becoming infected. Not taking illegal drugs is the best preventative step; however, if you do take drugs, try to seek advice from a close and trusted relative, a teacher, GP or school nurse. Avoid sharing needles.
It can be very difficult to tell someone that you have had unsafe sex or that you are or have taken illegal drugs. However, it is crucial that you approach a medical professional for advice, especially in order to have a blood test done to test for infections. They will also be able to assist you in talking to your parents about it, as well as provide you with advice on do’s and don’ts or refer you to specialist services such as counseling and drug intervention programmes.