Healthy Living Blog – World AIDS Day: HIV/AIDS in Young Adults
Tomorrow, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. It’s a day for people all over the world to learn about HIV/AIDS and how to fight the disease. People on World AIDS Day can show their support by wearing an HIV awareness red ribbon. Young adults are more likely to practice risky sexual behaviors, which increases their risk of getting infected with HIV. They are also the least likely to know that they are infected with HIV. It’s important that young adults know how they can protect themselves and others against HIV infection.
Who has the highest HIV infection rates?
- Men who have sex with men (gay and bisexual men)
- African American/Black people
- Young adults, ages 25 to 34 years
Risk factors for HIV infection
- Having anal sex. This type of sexual activity has the highest risk of spreading HIV if either partner has HIV.
- Having vaginal sex. HIV can be spread if either partner is infected with the virus. This type of sexual activity has a lower risk than anal sex.
- Injection drug use. People who use injection drugs are at risk for HIV infection if they share needles with someone who has HIV.
- Using other substances. Drinking alcohol, smoking, or inhaling drugs can increase someone’s risk of getting infected with HIV. These substances affect someone’s decision-making, which can lead them to do risky sexual activities.
Preventing HIV infection
- Use condoms the right way, every time you have sex. Condoms can protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Take Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is a daily pill for people who don’t have HIV but have a very high risk of getting HIV. This is an effective way to prevent HIV infection. Combine taking PrEP with condom use to protect against HIV and other STIs.
- Take Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). This is the use of antiretroviral drugs after high-risk HIV exposure to stop HIV from fully infecting your cells.
Testing does not prevent HIV infection but it can detect the virus early on. It’s critical to get tested for HIV after unprotected sex, especially if you are in a high-risk group. AACI’s HIV Outreach, Prevention, and Education (HOPE) program provides:
- Free HIV testing and counseling
- Community outreach
People who are HIV-positive should take their medication as soon as possible. This is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. ART reduces the amount of HIV in the body to a very low level. If this level is low enough, HIV can become undetectable in tests and will not spread to another person. With ART, the HIV in the body will not progress to AIDS, which is auto immunodeficiency syndrome. This is the key to living a healthy life with HIV.
Have questions or curious to learn more? Please reach out to our Health Center and make an appointment to speak with a doctor. AACI provides services in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and many other languages. Call (408) 975-2763 to schedule your appointment today!