There are many people living with HIV.
Although there is no cure for HIV, people with HIV who get good medical care can live
a long and healthy life. If you have a friend with HIV, just keep being a friend!
That is what your friend needs most.
How Can I Learn About HIV?
You will be more comfortable talking to your friend about HIV and AIDS if you know
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a
that attacks the immune system.
The immune system becomes weaker, making it harder for the body to fight off infections
and some kinds of cancers.
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) happens after someone has had HIV for
many years. In AIDS, the immune system is severely weakened. Serious infections and
health problems happen.
HIV spreads when infected blood or body fluids (such as semen or vaginal fluids)
enter the body. This can happen:
If your friend has to miss school because of an appointment or illness, offer
to bring homework to him or her.
If people say mean things about your friend's HIV, try to help them understand
the facts about HIV. They may be acting this way because they don't know what happens
to someone with HIV or how it is spread. If things get too mean, ask a teacher or
other adult for help.
If your friend seems very sad or overwhelmed, ask if talking to a therapist
might be helpful. If your friend seems interested, you can talk to your friend's parents
together (if your friend is OK with it) or you can go with your friend to a local
health clinic and ask for resources for helping someone with HIV/AIDS.
Ask if your friend would be interested in online resources, such as:
Do I Need to Worry About Getting HIV From My Friend?
You can't get HIV from the kind of casual contact you'd have with a friend, like
sharing a glass, kissing on the cheek, hugging, or shaking hands.
You can get HIV by having sex (vaginal,
oral, or anal), by sharing needles with someone.
Is My Friend Going to Get Sick?
It may not seem like your friend with HIV is sick at all. People with HIV can date,
have sex, get married, and have families. Having HIV doesn't mean your friend will
be sick or disabled by the virus. With the right medicines, people with HIV can stay
healthy for a long time.
What Else Should I Know?
The two most important things you can do for your friend are to be there for support
in whatever way feels natural and to keep your friend's HIV diagnosis private. Just
being there to hang out or eat lunch together can help keep things in perspective
Life is for living. If friends know that you care about them for them — for the
creative, smart, funny people they are — that can be the best thing you can do for
a person living with any type of medical condition.