- Young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, but they also have the power to change the course of the epidemic.
- Mobilizing young people to respond effectively to AIDS is a key to the fight against AIDS.
- Scouting is the world's largest youth organisation, with more than 28 million members in 216 countries.
- Together, Scouts around the world can change the course of this disease.
For information or counselling on HIV/AIDS, call the South African AIDS Hotline on 0800 012322 toll-free.
- Scouting And Aids pamphlet
- Scouting And Aids – information for adult leaders
- SCOUTS South Africa- HIV and Aids programme
- Scouts 2007 Gift for Peace – HIV and Aids programme
Scout Aids Awareness badge
These badge requirements enable a Scout to wear the Aids Awareness Badge.
- Have a basic understanding of:
- What is Aids.
- How do you get the disease.
- Other sexually transmitted diseases.
- How you can protect yourself.
- Why it is important to say 'no' to unsafe practices.
- Aids is incurable.
- Design your own emergency card with all the HELP LINES.
- Discuss two ways in which you can care for a friend that is ill.
What is AIDS
AIDS is short for: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
It is a serious condition in which the body's defences against some illnesses are broken down. People with AIDS develop many different kinds of disease which the body would usually fight off quite easily.
What causes AIDS
AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV, which is short for: Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
If a person becomes infected with HIV, does that mean they have AIDS? No. HIV is an unusual virus because a person can be infected with it for many years and yet appear to be perfectly healthy. But the virus gradually multiplies inside the body and eventually destroys the body's ability to fight off illnesses.
It is still not certain that everyone with HIV infection will get AIDS. It seems likely that most people with HIV will develop serious problems with their health. But this may be after many years. A person with HIV may not know they are infected but can pass the virus on to other people.
How could I become infected with HIV?
The two main ways in which a young person can become infected with HIV are:
- By having sexual intercourse with an infected partner;
- By injecting drugs using a needle or syringe which has already been used by someone who is infected.
HIV can be passed on in both ways because the virus is present in the sexual fluids and blood of infected people. If infected blood or sexual fluid gets into your blood, then you will become infected. If a man or woman with HIV has sexual intercourse without a condom, infected fluid could pass into the partner's blood stream through a tiny cut or sore. This can be so small that you don't know about it.
Which sexual activities are completely safe?
Safe sex means sex which is absolutely safe. Lots of activities are completely safe. You can kiss, cuddle, massage and rub each other's bodies. But if you have any cuts or sores on your hands make sure they are covered with plasters (band-aids).
Oral sex (one person kissing, licking or sucking the sexual areas of another person) does carry some risk of infection. Infected fluid could get into the mouth. The virus could then get into the blood if you have bleeding gums or tiny sores somewhere in the mouth.
What is safer sex?
Safer sex also means using a condom during sexual intercourse. Using a condom is not absolutely safe as condoms can break.
Being drunk or high
If you're drunk or high it can be easier for 'things to happen'. You might have sex with someone and find it difficult to use a condom. You may even forget altogether.
HIV can also be passed on by sharing equipment used to inject drugs. Blood can remain on needles and syringes ('works'). If you share, and a person infected with HIV used the works first, the virus can be injected directly into your blood.
It won't happen to me
Some people think that AIDS is something that other people need to worry about – gays, drug users, other races, people who sleep around. These ideas are mistaken. All young people, whoever they are, wherever they live need to take the threat of HIV seriously.
Your chance of becoming infected depends entirely on how you behave.
You can only become infected with HIV if you engage in risky activities. If you have sex without a condom, or with a number of different sexual partners, or share needles or syringes with several other drug users, you increase your chances of coming into contact with someone already infected.
Condoms can only be effective if used correctly.
HIV, AIDS and Sex
AIDS has made sex more difficult. It is one more thing to think about. But AIDS is not something to be so frightened of that it puts you off ever having sex.
Be clear about the risks and if you do decide to have a sexual relationship with someone, avoid activities which are risky.
- Material from the AVERT web site