Skip to main content

Being young and positive

Whether you were born with HIV or got it when you were young, there is lots to think about as a young person with HIV. 

But, HIV shouldn’t stop you from living a long, productive and healthy life plus having relationships and sex when you are ready. 

You might like to join a support group to meet other young people with HIV. 

Remember, just because you’re becoming an adult doesn’t mean have to do it all by yourself. Ask for help and support from friends, family, a healthcare professional or a trained peer whenever you need it. 

How do young people get HIV?

If you have HIV, you might wonder how you got it. There are two ways: 

  1. Being born with HIV 

This is when HIV passed from your mother to you when she was pregnant with you, during birth or through breastfeeding. 

  1. Getting HIV when you are an adolescent 

This could be from having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV, using a needle to inject drugs after someone with HIV used it, or having a blood transfusion that had HIV in it. 

How can I stay healthy?

The most important thing is to take your HIV treatment exactly as your healthcare provider told you to. Alongside that, try to eat healthy food, exercise regularly, avoid drugs and smoking, and don’t drink too much alcohol. Protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections by using a condom every time you have sex. 

Treatment adherence for young people

Should I tell people that I have HIV?

It’s your choice and you don’t have to tell people if you don’t want to. Some people are open about having HIV – perhaps you’ve grown up with it and it’s not a big issue for you. Other people are scared of rejection, bullying or gossip which makes telling people really difficult. 

If you want to tell someone, or a group of friends, then think about: 

  • What do you want to say? 

  • How might they react? 

  • What questions might they have for you? 

  • When will you tell them? 

  • Where will you tell them?  

Sharing your HIV status

Can I have a relationship?

Yes! People with HIV fall in love, have sex, have relationships, marry, and have children (without passing on HIV). Just like people who don’t have HIV. But it’s very common to worry that you can’t have a relationship or that you won’t be loved. None of this is true.  

You might start a relationship with someone who doesn’t have HIV (also called a mixed-status relationship). If this happens, think about if you want to tell them that you have HIV. Deciding how and when to tell them involves a lot of the same thinking as telling a friend.  

Can I have sex?

Yes! Young people with HIV who are above the age of consent can have sex if they want to. There are many ways you can protect the person you have sex with from HIV. Taking your treatment, using condoms consistently and correctly, and your partner taking PrEP, are all ways of keeping you both healthy. 

If you’re taking HIV treatment and it’s keeping the level of HIV in your body (viral load) very low, it means you are undetectable. And undetectable people can’t pass on HIV via sex.  


How can I meet other young people with HIV?

Getting to know other young people with HIV will help you feel less alone with your status. There are support groups for this which is where you can meet with other young people like you. Ask your healthcare provider about any that are near you. 

Let's talk about being young and positive!

Here are a few questions to help kick-off discussions on the issues you need to talk about! You can share them on social, on WhatsApp or just get talking.

See full details for this resource
See full details for this resource
See full details for this resource

Join the conversation

Looking for more detailed information?

I’ve just found out I have HIV. What should I do?

Advice: Finding out you were born with HIV 

People who were born with HIV are normally told about it when they are children. But some people are told when they are a bit older. It’s normal to feel confused or angry if you have just found out that you were born with HIV. But your family and healthcare provider will have discussed when they felt was the right time to tell you that you have HIV. 

Advice: Being diagnosed with HIV in your teenage years 

It can be scary to find out you have HIV when you are young. Whatever challenges you face it’s important to remember you are not alone. Lots of other people have been, and still are in, similar situations. Many people find it helpful to speak to a counsellor or join a support group. 

If you have only recently found out you have HIV it’s a good idea to learn more about the virus and understand what you can do to stay healthy. 

Newly diagnosed with HIV

Should I tell my school/college/university I have HIV?

You don’t have to tell your place of education, but it might help if you need support with your treatment or attending healthcare check-ups. Think about a teacher or school nurse that you like and trust, they might be a good person to tell first, if you want someone at school to know.  

Do I have to move from child to adult HIV services?

This is sometimes called transitioning from paediatric to adult care. 

While you may be going to a child HIV clinic for your check-ups now, eventually you will transfer to an adult clinic. This can feel like a big change and lots of young people struggle with going to a new clinic with new healthcare staff. 

Remember, just because you’re becoming an adult doesn’t mean you’re meant to ‘know it all’ or must do everything by yourself. You’ll still need support from family and friends and healthcare professionals. Ask your new healthcare provider lots of questions so that you feel informed about what is going on. They are there to help you, even when you are an adult. 

Join the conversation

Next: Treatment adherence for young people

Explore more

Still can't find what you're looking for?