HIV can only be transmitted through the body's fluids, like blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. HIV is also a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI), also called a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STIs are transmitted through many different types of sexual activity, in addition to intercourse, with someone who is infected.
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.
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.
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 prevent HIV 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.
Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PrEP is a daily pill for people who do not have HIV, but have a partner who is living with HIV. The pill stops HIV from taking hold and spreading through your body. PEP is an anti-HIV medicine that you take within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV to lower your chances of getting HIV. 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 injected drugs.
Need help getting tested? Most insurance plans cover HIV testing without any cost to you.Find a place to get tested.
You can help fight stigma by making sure people know you can't get HIV from things like the air, toilet seats, or hugs.
Don't use alcohol or drugs. Alcohol or drugs can make you more likely to take risks, such as not using a condom.
Never share needles, syringes, or other injection equipment. Sharing equipment puts you at high risk of infection.
If you have questions, talk to a parent or other trusted adult. Most adults want you to be safe and healthy in the future.
For more information, visit the Types of STIs (STDs)page on girlshealth.gov. Follow the conversation on social media using #NWGHAAD.