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[Medical Dictionary][Viral Infection]

AIDS Tips for Teens

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

AIDS is a condition caused by a virus called HIV that attacks a person's immune system, making it defenseless against diseases and infections. The full medical name for AIDS is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and the virus is called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is transmitted through all forms of unprotected sexual intercourse, i.e., vaginal, anal or oral sex without the proper use of a latex condom, and through sharing needles or syringes with someone who is infected with HIV. Because HIV can "hide" in the body for 10 years or more before it shows up as AIDS, you must never assume that just because you cannot "see" it in a person, it is not there!

Alcohol and other drugs can alter the immune system and make a person more susceptible to acquiring HIV infection.

Adolescents and AIDS
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HIV/AIDS has been the sixth leading cause of death among 15-?to 24-year olds in the United States since 1991. One in five people newly diagnosed with AIDS is in the 20 to 29 year age group. This means that HIV transmission occurred while they were in their teens, or that they were HIV-positive while they were in their teens. More than half of the new cases of HIV infection in 1994 were related to drug use, either through direct use or through sexual contact with someone who injects drugs.

Research has shown that while most teen-agers understand how HIV is transmitted and how they can avoid infection, they need to understand that it can happen to them. According to recent CDC studies conducted every two years in high schools (grades nine to 12), many teen-agers are engaging in high-risk behaviors which not only make them vulnerable to acquiring HIV/AIDS, but also to acquiring other sexually transmitted diseases associated with drug use.

How Can You Prevent Getting HIV/AIDS?

  • Educate yourself. Know the facts. Act smart.
  • Do not use alcohol or any kind of drugs.
  • Do not use any needles that have been used by other people for tattooing or piercing or for injecting drugs or other substances such as steroids, vitamins, hormones or insulin.
  • Know that it is OK not to have sex. But if you do, protect yourself and use a latex condom.
  • Avoid contact with a person's blood, semen or vaginal fluid.

Sex and Drug Use Are Linked Among Teen-agers
Like driving under the influence, sex under the influence can be deadly. Because alcohol and other drugs negatively affect good judgment in regard to sexual behavior, people under the influence are more likely to have sex, practice unprotected sex or engage in "risky" sexual acts.

  • Many students report using alcohol or drugs when they have sex.
  • One in 62 high school students reports having injected an illegal drug.
  • HIV transmission is occurring among people who trade sex for non-injected drugs such as crack.
  • Peer pressure can lead to sex, drugs and AIDS.
  • People infected with HIV may look and feel healthy for a long time.

Facts for Girls/Women
Young women are the fastest growing group contracting HIV/AIDS through unprotected sex.

  1. As of December 1994, 58,428 adolescent and young adult women have been diagnosed with AIDS. The cumulative number of reported cases of HIV infected women for the same period was 15,241.

  2. About 75 percent of the AIDS cases in women were associated with the use of injected drugs, either through direct use or through sexual contact with a man who injected drugs.

  3. African American and Hispanic women make up 21 percent of all U.S. women, yet they represent more than 75 percent of all the AIDS cases reported among women.

  4. AIDS is the fourth leading cause of death among women between the ages of 25 and 44 in the United States. It is the number one cause of death among African American women in the same age group. Many of these women were infected while still in their teens.

  5. While HIV can be transmitted during vaginal, oral or anal sex, the transmission occurs most often during vaginal intercourse.

  6. A pregnant woman infected with HIV/AIDS can transmit the virus to her unborn baby.

[Medical Dictionary][Viral Infection]

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