HIV and AIDS support for children and young people

On this page, you can find information on support for young people with HIV or AIDS. 

We provide outpatient and inpatient HIV support from the Greenway Centre.

If you are expecting a child and have HIV, contact Barts Health NHS Trust. They are experts in managing HIV in pregnancy. 

What is HIV? 

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. When HIV enters your body it weakens your body's defences or immune system, making it less able to fight off diseases. 

What is AIDS? 

AIDS stands for: 

  • Acquired - you get it from somebody 

  • Immune - body's defence system 

  • Deficiency - not working properly 

  • Syndrome - a group of signs or symptoms. 

This means that a person with AIDS can get infections that a person with a healthy body would be able to fight off easily. Antibiotics and other medicines can help people with AIDS to feel better and live longer. 

How is HIV spread? 

In most cases HIV is passed on through: 

  • Having sex with a person who has HIV without using a condom 

  • Sharing injecting or body piercing instruments such as needles, knives or razor blades which have been used on a person with HIV and not properly cleaned 

  • A mother who has HIV can pass it to her baby during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding 

  • Through blood to blood contact such as getting HIV-infected blood, infected blood products or organ transplants. 

In the UK, it is hard to get HIV this way because we screen all blood, blood products and donors for HIV. 

You do not get HIV from everyday contact such as: 

  • Social kissing 

  • Shaking hands, sneezes, coughing 

  • Touching and hugging 

  • Sharing cups, glasses, plates, knives or forks 

  • Toilet seats and door handles 

  • Insect and animal bites 

  • Swimming in a public pool 

  • Living in the same house. 

How do you know if you have HIV? 

If you think that you have put yourself at risk of HIV, you should have a blood test, known as an HIV antibody test, as soon as possible. 

The earlier HIV is detected, the more likely it is that the treatment will be successful. 

When you have a test: 

  • There will be a counsellor there to talk to you and help you to think about how you will deal with the result of the test 

  • If the result is positive, it means that you have HIV in your body and can pass it on to another person 

  • If the result is negative it means that you do not have HIV now. 

Where can I get a test? 

There are a number of places you can get an HIV test, including your GP surgery or any sexual health clinic. 

How can I protect myself and others? 

You can protect yourself and others by: 

  • Using a condom correctly every time you have sex 

  • Sterilising injecting and skin piercing instruments every time 

  • Not sharing injecting equipment 

  • Using HIV drugs, and safe feeding practices to reduce the spread of HIV from mothers to their babies during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. 

Contact your doctor for further information or visit the NHS Choices website.​​