September 6, 2012
The Basic Facts About HIV/AIDS
As sexual health educators and advocates, SMART Youth facilitates workshops at schools and youth organizations all over New York City. We talk a lot about safer sex, communicating about sex with your partner (particularly about using a condom), and most importantly we talk about HIV/AIDS. The topic is essential to us because SMART is an organization for women and youth living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, and we want to make sure that people have the correct information about what is HIV/AIDS to protect themselves and to reduce the stigma (and ignorance) that comes from many of the myths about HIV/AIDS. Since there's no way we can go to every school or youth organization in New York City, let alone the world, we thought we could put up some basic HIV/AIDS information here so that youth are informed and ready to advocate for the right to protect themselves by being able to get condoms, get tested and go see a doctor without parental permission.
Here's some typical questions that we hear on a regular basis from other teenagers and our responses.
What does HIV stand for?
HIV stands for
Human (it can't be transmitted from a cat or dog)
Immunodeficiency (it attacks our bodies natural defense mechanism -- the immune system)
Basically, Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lot like other viruses, including those that cause the "flu" or the common cold. But there is an important difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. That isn't the case with HIV – the human immune system can't seem to get rid of it. Scientists are still trying to figure out why.