By: Romesha Ensley

In 2012, 1.2 million people were HIV positive in the United States, and 12.8% of them didn’t even know they were infected. Now, in 2015, more than 36.9 million people are living with HIV. Up to ten years can pass by and the infection can be in you without you having any symptoms. It is important to get checked every three to six months if you are having sex, especially if it is unprotected.

A local teenager had the scare of her young life when she thought she had been infected.

Names have been changed in this story to protect victims’ privacy.

Vanessa, 19, of Toledo, thought she may have been infected by someone who she thought was her faithful boyfriend.

test result“OMG like it was scary, like I had so many mixed emotions. I didn’t know what to think. All I knew was I was being faithful and loyal to a person who wasn’t loyal to me. I had a break down, I wanted to commit suicide because I’m so young. I was scared and I felt like my life was going to be over.”

Vanessa and her boyfriend had been in a relationship for three years. She never thought he would cheat on her. Having unprotected sex with your partner can be a risky thing. You never know what you’re exposing yourself to.

Malik, 16, a Scott student, tells how he doesn’t think about the chances of catching HIV when having unprotected sex. He believes he will always choose the “right” females to have sex with.

“I wouldn’t have sex with someone who looks like they have something. Matter of fact, I don’t even use condoms because I know how to pull out.”

Attitudes like this are part of the reason why teens are at high risk for catching the HIV virus.

get testedIt is important to know who you are sexually active with. You should know their health status at all times. It is easy to think that just by looking at someone you can tell if they are infected or not, and that is not always the case. Looks can be very deceiving. It is important to be careful and know that you only have one body, so protect it.

Health professionals say the only way to be sure that you are protected is for you and your partner to decide to use condoms.

Always know that once HIV is in you, it’s there for good.