HIV: What is it?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus is a disease that your body can’t fight without medicine. HIV attacks the cells in your body that fight infections and disease. Over time, HIV can make it so your body can't fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Symptoms (Signs that you may have disease) can include:

• Fever (very common)

• Swollen glands

• Sore throat

• Rash

• Fatigue

• Muscle and joint aches and pains

• Headache

Many people with HIV have NO symptoms at all and look perfectly healthy. Get tested today to find out your status.

HIV: How can I get it?

The major ways for teenagers and young adults to get HIV:

  1. Unprotected sexual Contact with someone who has HIV through their:-Semen (cum)-Vaginal fluids
  2. Blood (example sharing contaminated needles for drugs or tattoos)

HIV: Fast Facts

  • There is no vaccination YET to keep a person from getting HIV (but scientists are working on it!)
  • HIV testing is totally confidential in NY. You do not need your parent’s permission to get tested
  • Taking PrEP daily could lower your chances of getting HIV. See moreinformation here

HIV: How can I get tested for it?

  • We use the latest tests in our clinics to check for HIV in the blood. These new tests can find out your status with 2-3 weeks after your last risky exposure (unprotected sex or needle-sharing)
  • If the tests show anything, we will get you into care as quickly as possible so we can do a complete evaluation and begin talking about how best to treat your case

How can I be treated for HIV?

While there is no cure for HIV, since 1987, about 30 drugs have been approved to treat HIV. Some common ones are known as:

  • Antiretrovirals (ARVs) When certain ARVs are taken together, they can stop the virus from growing in your body. When the virus is slowed down, so is HIV disease

How your doctor decides which HIV medications are best for you:

  • How you like to take medicine (number of pills, once a day versus twice a day, etc.)
  • Which type of HIV you have and which ARVs can prevent the virus from spreading. (For example, some people have types of HIV that are resistant to certain types of ARVs–even if they have NEVER taken ARVs before)
  • Possible side effects
  • Your medical and mental health history

HIV: How can I keep myself and my partner(s) from getting it?

  • Using male condoms
  • Using female condoms
  • Not sharing needles
  • Not having sex (abstinence)
  • Reduce the number of people with whom I have unprotected sex
  • Limit the use of alcohol or drugs before sex
  • Talk to someone at Project STAY about PEP and PrEP

HIV: How can I protect my partner(s) once I know I have it?

  • Tell them. It is very important that you talk to your current and past sexual partners about your HIV status. There are many resources to help you through this process like support groups etc. In most cases, sharing your HIV status is a personal choice—but now many states have laws that require you to tell the Department of Health about your partner/s so they can contact them and get them into care. They will do so in private and will not use your name
  • Take ARVs – once you start taking ARVs, the amount of virus in your blood should not be noticeable within 6-8 weeks. At this point, it will be hard to spread HIV to any sexual partner (unless you have another sexually-transmitted disease (like chlamydia or syphilis) which may increase the amount of HIV in your semen or vaginal fluids)
  • Have your partner take PrEP – to be on the safe side, if your partner is not infected with HIV, we recommend that he or she also take PrEP to further reduce their chances of HIV exposure

What if I don’t have health insurance?

  • In New York, there is a special program called ADAP which will provide health insurance for people living with HIV. It will pay for all your clinic visits, lab tests and medications

What about other services?

  • People living with HIV need a variety of services such as housing, mental health care, help with getting a job, and other services. We can help you get to the right agency to get what you need. See the resources section of this site
  • Project STAY has a full program to provide medical and mental health services for young people living with HIV. To make an appointment, contact Joanna Pudil at: or 646-234-0417