What's my risk of HIV?
01. What puts me at risk of HIV?
Your risk of getting the virus depends a lot on YOU! Starting to have sex early on puts you in greater danger of getting HIV than if you wait until you're physically and emotionally ready. You should also be in a long-term loving relationship – and even then, you always need to use a condom. The number of people you have sex with is another big factor 'cause you can never be 100% sure of whether your partner has HIV, or has slept with someone else with HIV. The danger is also that somebody who gets HIV can feel fine for a long time and not be aware they have the virus – sometimes for many years. So, if you have more than one sexual partner, your risk of HIV goes right up and you have more chance of infecting others. Remember: everyone your partner has slept with is sleeping with you!
02. Are girls more at risk than guys?
Yip, biologically-speaking, chicas are twice more likely than guys to become infected with HIV through unprotected sex. One of the reasons is that when you're young, your body membranes are thinner, so the HI-virus can get through more easily. During sex, you may get small abrasions that are only visible under a microscope but are big enough to let the virus through. Another big reality here in Mzansi is that HIV is generally spread through teenage girls having sex with older guys, who are more likely to be infected with HIV... And don't think these girls are just out having a good time or selling their bods – that generally ain't so. No way! Males are forcing girls to have sex against their will and sexual violence plays a big role in the spread of HIV among girls and young women. Transactional sex for survival – but also for better grades, airtime, or new jeans – also ups your chances of getting the virus. So, while there may be a risk (like forced sex) even for those who make all the right choices, the point is to get your risk as close to zero as possible by making the right moves.