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. Love yourself. If you decide to have sex in the future, practice safe sex, and take action to help end HIV and AIDS. Here is some great information for girls:


1

HIV can only be transmitted through the body’s fluids, like blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. HIV is also a type of sexually transmitted disease (STD), also called a sexually transmitted infection (STI). STDs are transmitted through many different types of sexual activity, in addition to intercourse, with someone who is infected.

2

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, go to a doctor. Learn more about signs of STDs.


3

Women and girls living with HIV may have no symptoms for years. Even if HIV causes no symptoms, it is still hurting your body's immune system, or defense system against illnesses. People living with HIV need to get treatment as early as possible.

4

Anyone who has sex is at risk of HIV. Your risk is based on things you may not know — like who your partner has been with before or if they've ever injected drugs. Be brave, ask questions, and get tested together.


5

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, who doesn't have HIV, and who does not inject drugs.

6

Need help getting tested? Most insurance plans cover HIV testing without any cost to you. Find a place to get tested.


7

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

8

Don't use alcohol or drugs. Alcohol or drugs can make you more likely to take risks, such as not using a condom.


9

Never share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment. Sharing equipment puts you at high risk of infection.

10

If you have questions, talk to a parent or other trusted adult. Most adults want you to be safe and healthy in the future.


11

If you are living with HIV, you can live a longer, healthier life and help HIV from becoming AIDS. Make sure to eat healthy, take your HIV medicines, and check in with 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.