Of the sexually transmitted diseases reported in Florida, in 2010, 34% of chlamydia, 29% of gonorrhea & 9% of primary and secondary syphilis cases were ages 13-19.
“Most people diagnosed with AIDS before the age of 30 were infected with HIV in their teens or early twenties.”

(Florida Department of Health, Bureau of HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet, HIV/AIDS in Young People, Ages 13-24, 2010)

What are HIV and AIDS?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a virus like a cold or flu that can only infect humans. It is passed from an infected person through the exchange of blood or body fluids. In other words, you can’t catch it, you have to be infected with it.

Once in the body, the HIV virus immediately begins to attack the body’s infection fighting cells, known as T-cells. HIV can’t reproduce itself, so it reproduces by multiplying by the millions in the T-cells until it kills the cell; then, they go on to attack and kill more T-cells. As the number of virus increases, the number of T-cells decreases until the body can no longer fight off infection. There is no cure for HIV. With proper treatment it can be controlled.

Without treatment and sometimes even with treatment, this breakdown in the body’s ability to fight off infection causes a syndrome (a combination of symptoms and diseases) known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS. Infections, known as opportunistic infections, take advantage of the body’s immune deficiency and can be deadly. As a matter of fact, these opportunistic infections are what usually kills people with HIV/AIDS.

Things you should know about HIV/AIDS

People who are infected with HIV or have AIDS can look healthy. They may not even know they are infected. Sometimes, it can take five to ten years for someone to have symptoms after getting infected.

Even if they look healthy and don’t have any symptoms, they can still pass the virus to others.

Everyone who has had unprotected sex or has shared syringes to inject drugs or steroids is at risk for being infected with HIV/AIDS.

Worldwide, more than 90% of all adolescent and adult HIV infections have resulted from heterosexual intercourse.*

Females are more likely to get HIV during unprotected heterosexual intercourse.

How is HIV spread?

HIV is spread by the exchange of body fluids in four ways:

  • Sexual Contact – having unprotected or unsafe vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person.
  • Sharing needles to inject drugs or steroids. Injecting into the vein is a greater risk.
  • Mother-to-infant (perinatal) transmission during pregnancy, during the birth process, or through breastfeeding and/or pre-chewing food for the baby, after birth. Perinatal transmission can be prevented if mom and baby are treated.
  • Transfusion of blood or blood products. Rare in countries, like the United States, where blood is screened for HIV before it is used.

HIV is not spread by:

  • Sitting next to someone who has HIV.
  • Shaking hands, hugging, or dry kissing. But, kissing can spread other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as herpes.
  • Using public toilets, water coolers, or telephones.
  • Eating in public restaurants or cafeterias.
  • Swimming in pools or using hot tubs.
  • Being bitten by an insect or animal. HIV can only be passed from person to person.
  • Donating blood.

Things you can do to protect yourself:
Abstinence is the only 100% certain way to protect yourself from getting HIV sexually.

When you do have sex, only have sex with one partner who only has sex with you after you have both been tested.

Protect yourself. Latex condoms are the most effective against HIV and STDs. But, it’s not a 100% sure thing.

Avoid oil based lubricants, novelty condoms, and natural membrane condoms.

Avoid drug and alcohol use. Keep your mind clear and guard up.

If you even think you are at risk GET TESTED!!!

Thinking about having sex? “Sure, all my friends are doing it” is the most important reason why you shouldn’t!

Florida Statistics:

  • In Florida 19% of all new HIV infections are among young people under the age of 25.
  • 2008-2010, 719 HIV cases were reported for teens ages 13-19 and 2070 HIV cases were reported for ages 20-24.
  • AIDS related illnesses are the 7th leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15-19 and the 6th leading cause of death between the ages of 20-24.
  • There are 3,882 young people between the ages of 13-24 reported to be living with HIV/AIDS in Florida
    • 25% are 13-19 and 75% are 20-24
    • 13% are white, 70% are black, and 16% are Hispanic (2% other)
    • 42% of the infections occurred in men who have sex with men
    • 26% through heterosexual contact
    • 29% through Perinatal (mother-to-baby) transmission

Source: Florida Department of Health/Bureau of HIV/AIDS 2010 Fact Sheets, (December 2010)