Teens often feel like nothing can hurt them. To many, their impression of HIV is nothing more than a disease that doesn't affect them. In actuality, HIV can impact the teenage population. There are so many misconceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS; myth and misunderstanding fueled by the media, by fear, and by ignorance. Let's take a look at the truth; five things every teen should know about HIV and AIDS.
1. HIV Does Not Discriminate
Since the epidemic began over twenty years ago, stereotypes have surfaced as to who are HIV infected people. White gay males, drug users and prostitutes are labeled as the faces of HIV and AIDS. The fact is that anyone can get HIV, from elderly men and women living in a nursing home to teens planning their next prom. Men and women, adults and children, rich and poor, the homeless and the college professor; HIV can infect anyone who doesn't take the proper precautions.
The HIV Timeline - History of an Epidemic
2. Oral Sex Is Not as Safe as You Think
Oral sex is often thought of as the "safer sex". Many adolescents believe that oral sex is a safe way to engage in sex, free from the worry of pregnancy and disease. The truth is that oral sex is not as safe as you think. Studies have shown that infected bodily fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions have high concentrations of HIV that can enter the blood stream through the mucous membranes of the mouth.
How Safe is Oral Sex?
3. There's More to Worry About than Pregnancy
Many teens still believe that the only risk associated with unprotected sex is pregnancy. So, to prevent pregnancy, teens used birth control techniques such as oral sex or the withdrawal method ("pulling out") prior to ejaculation, in an effort to prevent pregnancy. Unfortunately, there is more to be concerned about. Infection with a STD, including HIV is for life, meaning there is no cure. Herpes, syphilis, and HIV are real concerns that if contracted will be with you a lifetime.
Condoms Prevent More Than Pregnancy
4. Sometimes People Hide the Truth / Sometimes People Dont Know
Think about it for a moment. How many people will admit they are HIV infected if asked by the new love in their life? How many will admit to their sexual history when they are trying to win the affections of their new love interest? How many people really know their HIV status and the status of the people they have been with in the past? A claim of "my past partner was negative" is only acceptable if it is backed by a negative test. Ask the right questions and get the test.
How To Tell Someone You Have HIV
5. HIV Kills and There is No Cure
People are living longer due to the advent of powerful HIV medications that help fight the virus. Unfortunately, the medications are not a cure. Liver disease, pneumonia, and serious infection of the brain and other internal organs are constant concerns for those living with HIV. The medicines are not a "quick fix" to an HIV infection. They are difficult to take and cause many side effects such as fat accumulations in the stomach and neck, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, rashes, and vomiting.
What Does HIV Do To Your Body?