What every girl needs to know about HIV and AIDS

HIV and AIDS can be confusing. But you can learn how to stay safe and healthy — and help your friends and family. Remember that the best defense against HIV is a good offense. Love yourself, practice safe sex, and take action to help end HIV and AIDS. Here is some great information for girls:


HIV is a type of sexually transmitted disease (STD), also known as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). STDs are passed through sexual activity with someone who is infected.


STDs like chlamydia raise your risk of getting HIV. About one in four teens (ages 14–19) has an STD. If you think you have an STD, see a doctor. Learn more about signs of STDs.


Women and girls with HIV may have no symptoms for years. Even if HIV causes no symptoms, it is still causing problems with your body's immune system that need treatment as early as possible.


Your risk of HIV is based on things you may not know — like your partner's sexual past. Be brave, ask questions, and get tested together.


Protect yourself by using a condom correctly every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex and avoiding contact with your partner's fluids and blood. Other ways to help yourself stay safe include only having sex with one partner who is only having sex with you and who doesn't have HIV.


Need help getting tested? You may be able to get HIV testing and counseling for free, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.


Help fight stigma by making sure people know you can't get HIV from things like the air, toilet seats, or hugs.


Avoid using alcohol and drugs. If you use alcohol or drugs, you may be more likely to take risks, such as not using a condom.


Never share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment. Sharing these with an infected person can put you at greater risk of infection.


If you have questions, talk to a parent or other trusted adult. Don't be afraid to be open and honest with them about your concerns.


If you are HIV-positive, you can live a longer, healthier life and help prevent HIV from becoming AIDS. Make sure to eat healthy, take your medicine, and see your doctor. Learn how Ieshia Scott is living a healthy life with HIV.

For more information, visit the Types of STDs (STIs) page on girlshealth.gov.