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HIV 101
Photo: Janet Goulden
We’ve heard it a million times:  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Right now it’s cool to be healthy, and that old saying—“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”—is one that we should live by.

In our country there are a number of diseases that could be virtually nonexistent if we would quit smoking. There’s another disease, though, that’s also preventable. It’s Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV, is a three-letter abbreviation that basically spells death. Usually when a person hears that they have HIV, they see it as a death sentence.

By now the world knows about HIV and its dangers. If you are overloaded by all the information available about HIV, here are four simple ways that you can significantly lower your chance of contracting HIV.


According to the Center for Disease Control, sexual contact ranks as the number one way to contract HIV.1 It’s unfortunate that sex is a way that many young people choose to define themselves or make themselves part of the crowd. Before HIV arrived, there was once a growing concern about teenage pregnancy and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). Now the biggest concern is contracting HIV.

The label on a condom reads, “If used properly, latex condoms will help reduce the risk of transmission of HIV infection (AIDS) and many other sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).”  But here’s what it should say: “Abstain from sex to avoid HIV infection (AIDS), sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), and pregnancy.”

Drugs and alcohol

Experimenting with drugs and alcohol is a sure-fire way to contract HIV. Thirty-three states in 2003 reported that intravenous drug use ranked as the number two way (after sexual conduct) that people contracted HIV. Sharing needles with an HIV-infected person is a sure way to directly inject the virus into your bloodstream.1

Here’s how the connection works:  Drugs and alcohol affect your behavior, causing you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Did you know that alcohol is often called the “truth serum”? That’s because it can cause its consumers to say things that they’d never say if they weren’t drinking.

While you’re high or intoxicated, your inhibitions become degraded, and it becomes easier for a sexual act to take place. Usually people who are high or intoxicated and have sex don’t remember the act, much less whether or not they used a condom or used it properly.

The bottom line here is that when your judgment is compromised, you make bad decisions that can put you at risk for contracting HIV.

Peer Pressure

The famous line goes, “Everyone’s doing it.” But that famous little phrase doesn’t have to include you. The 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reports that more than 46 percent of teenagers have had sex. Eleven percent said they had sex for the first time when they were 15 years old, and 9.5 percent said they had sex for the first time when they were 14 years old. The study also revealed that 15 percent did not use condoms during their last sexual encounter.

Not everyone’s doing it. The study also reported that more than half of the respondents—53 percent—were not having sex.1 That means the stories that your friends are telling you may not be completely true.

Guard your soul

Proverbs 4:14, 15 says- “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book, and then certain elements of the book or movie showed up in your dreams? Everything you see, read, and observe is recorded in your mind for one intention—execution. That’s why it’s easy to be tempted to try sex, alcohol, and drugs—all the media outlets tell you that these things are OK. That’s why it’s paramount that you keep Christ all over you.

How do you do that? Here’s what Christ said to do: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Here are some practical ways to do that:

1. Call upon the Lord and ask Him for a distraction or a detour, a positive hobby to take up.
2. Value your full life; don’t just value the moment.
3. Stay away from anything that will alter your thought patterns or behavior.
4. Remember that sex has powerful consequences—not rewards—for young, unmarried people.

If you follow these guidelines, you’ll basically eliminate your chances of contracting HIV.

1 Taken from www.cdc.gov/hiv/stats/2003SurveillanceReport/table20.htm.
2 Taken from www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/YRBS/data/2003/yrbs2003codebook. Pdf

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By Garry Graham. Reprinted with permission from Insight Magazine, August 19, 2006. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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