Adolescent AIDS Program: HIV and U

HIV and U
-- Adapted from The Deal
If you think you’re not at risk for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, think again. In the U.S. a young person is infected with HIV every hour of every day.

Here’s a snapshot of infection rates:

Half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. occur in young people 13-24 years of age; that’s 20,000 new HIV positive youth each year.

Most people can live with HIV for years without knowing they’re infected, since AIDS symptoms can take more than 10 years to develop.

There are more than 30,000 AIDS cases in the U.S. in people under 25 and many more who are infected with HIV, but have not yet developed AIDS.

Real Talk About Your Risk | Chillin’ For Now | Getting Serious About Safer Sex | The Naked Truth About Condoms

Real Talk About Your Risk
In young people, HIV is usually passed from one person to another through sexual activity. Are some sexual behaviors riskier than others? Not all the answers are in, but here are the facts about transmission, as they’re understood today:

• HIV is a virus that can be passed during an exchange of blood or sexual bodily fluids (semen or cum, vaginal fluids).

•Anal and vaginal sex without a condom put you at greatest risk for HIV/AIDS.

• If you have an STD (like gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, or syphilis) – as 25 percent of sexually active teens do each year – HIV infection is an even greater risk.

• It’s more common for men to infect women with HIV than for women to infect men, but the risk can be more equal if you have an STD.

• Some studies suggest that HIV is unlikely to spread through oral sex. Swallowing does not appear to increase the risk. But it’s not impossible, especially if the person giving oral sex has cuts or sores in their mouth. It’s also worth remembering that other STDs, like gonorrhea, syphilis and herpes, can be spread by oral sex without a condom.

• Holding hands, kissing, massage and mutual masturbation (pleasing each other using hands) are intimate activities that don’t carry the risk of HIV transmission.

Chillin’ For Now
It may seem like everybody’s having sex, but in reality, not everyone is. Many young people choose abstinence. You can still have a boyfriend or girlfriend and not have sexual intercourse, but instead do other things (such as holding hands, kissing and touching) and save intercourse for later. Sex is only one part of a relationship. Respect, friendship and safety are important too.

Don’t rush the decision about when and why to have sex. The choice is up to you. And remember, since you may have different ideas about what defines sex, be sure to discuss this with your partner so you’ll be sure you’re not putting yourself at risk.

Sex means different things to different people. What do you consider sex? See if your boyfriend/girlfriend agrees with your definition:
Sex is…
• Intercourse
• Oral sex
• Any sexual contact whatsoever
• Outercourse (sex without penetration)
• Dry sex (sex with clothes on)
• All of the above

Getting Serious About Safer Sex
If you decide to have sex, being safe can be a matter of life and death, though it isn’t always easy. For many people, it’s hard to bring up the issue because of embarrassment or fears that your partner will think you don’t trust them or that you’re sleeping around. But it’s important to take the initiative and be strong.

Believe it or not, your partner may respect you more because you’re showing that you care about yourself and your future.
Here are some pointers to help you talk about safer sex with your partner and some examples of what you might want to say:

• Don’t wait until the heat of the moment. It’s easier to discuss ways to have safer sex ahead of time so you’ll both be clear. It could get you in the mood!

“I really want to be with you, but we haven’t been tested yet. We’ve got to be safe and use condoms.”

• Be prepared to state your concerns around HIV and/or pregnancy and don’t back down.

“Even though I trust you, we can’t always know if we’ve been infected. If you care about me, you’ll understand.”

• If you haven’t used condoms in the past and want to start, you have the right. Try explaining what made you change your mind – a friend, magazine article or doctor’s visit.

“I know we haven’t used condoms in the past, but now I realize that was a mistake. We need to do things differently next time.”

• Offer to get HIV tested together. Testing resources throughout the country are listed on the Info Matrix page of this site.

“I’ll feel better if we know our HIV status before having sex. I’ll get tested if you will.”

The Naked Truth About Condoms
When used correctly, condoms are the best protection you have against HIV/AIDS and other STDs and can also prevent unwanted pregnancies. But people often find reasons not to use a condom every time. Here are some real-life scenarios and solutions:

They break…
“Friends of mine have had condoms break on them.”

It’s a popular excuse and it can happen, but in reality it’s very rare that condoms break if you use them correctly. They have an amazing 98% success rate, in part because they’re regulated by the federal government and tested for defects.

Here are important condom DOs and DON’Ts:
• Use latex, not natural skin condoms, and be sure to check the expiration date on condoms you use

• Use water-based lubricants like K-Y Jelly and NEVER oil, butter, hand lotion or aseline, which could melt the condom

• Don’t keep them in a warm environment (like near a heater or in your pocket) since heat can dry them out

• If you’ve never used a condom, practice when you’re alone, before you have sex so you can be sure to do it correctly; girls can practice putting a condom on a cucumber or their fingers

• Put on the condom as soon as the penis gets hard, before any vaginal, anal or oral contact with the penis, and make sure the condom is right side out (like a sock, there’s a right and wrong side)

• Hold the tip of the condom between your fingers and unroll it onto the erect (hard) penis as far as it will go (to the base of the penis near the balls); keep out air bubbles and leave space at the tip of the condom for the cum

• Withdraw from your partner immediately after you cum and/or before losing the erection, holding the condom firmly to the base of the penis to keep it from slipping off

• Throw out a used condom right away; only use a condom once – NEVER use the same condom for vaginal and anal intercourse

They don’t feel good…
“I’m too big and I can’t feel anything
when I’m wearing one.”

There’s more than one type of condom and everyone can find a brand that’s right for them. Some condoms are very thin; others are ribbed for extra sensation. Some are designed for those who are extra large, others for smaller guys. There are also colored, glow-in-the dark and flavored (only for oral sex) varieties. An added plus: many people find they last longer when using condoms!!

I don’t need to use one…
“He/she looks clean.
I would know if my partner had HIV.”

You can’t tell if someone has HIV by the way they look. Symptoms of AIDS often take years to develop.

“My partner and I don’t sleep around, we trust each other, so we don’t need to use condoms any more.”

Many people feel they’re not at risk for HIV or other STDs if they’re in a faithful relationship. But even though your partner may want to be honest with you about their sexual past or tell you that they’re currently messing around, honesty isn’t always easy. Besides, your partner could be infected and not know it. To be sure of your/your partner’s HIV status, you should both be tested twice, six months apart, as HIV can take time to show up. Also think about the following:

• How long have you known your partner? It’s wise to take your time before trusting someone you’ve just met, no matter how strongly you feel about them.

• Have you ever broken up? It’s possible your partner was with someone else during that time.

• Could your partner be having sex with someone else without a condom now? Don’t push away any nagging, suspicious feelings.

• How well do you know their past sexual history? Your partner could have been exposed to HIV if they had unprotected sex – especially with someone who injects drugs or has sex with guys who have sex with other guys.

• Have they ever injected drugs? If they use or have used in the past, they are at increased risk for HIV.

• Is your partner gay, straight, bi-sexual or on the down low? It’s not always as easy as you may think to tell someone’s sexual orientation. It’s important to communicate – carefully and sensitively.

• Have you discussed being monogamous or do you just think you are? It’s possible that you’re more serious than your partner or visa versa. Make sure you’re both on the same page.