Fact Guides

The YAHAnet Team has prepared two types of introductory guides which anyone can view or download:
  • Fact Guides – basic information about HIV and AIDS.
  • How-To Guides – introductions to a variety of ways of using the arts to advocate and educate on HIV and AIDS.
Many more guides coming soon!

What Is HIV?

HIV stands for the ‘Human Immunodeficiency Virus’. HIV is a virus that infects the cells of living organisms (i.e. the human body) as it replicates itself within those cells. Over time without medication, the virus damages the cells, making the infected person's immune system weak.

According to recent statistics more than half of the 40 million people in the world infected with HIV are women. A large percentage of those infected with the virus are young people aged 15 to 24, who now account for half of all new infections. Most disturbing however is that in Sub-Saharan Africa young women aged 15 to 24 account for 75 percent of all people infected with the virus.


Large numbers of children around the world are infected with HIV and AIDS every year. Though antiretroviral drugs exist to help slow the progression of the virus, there are millions of children who do not have access to this treatment and end up dying from the epidemic at staggering rates every year.

It is estimated that nearly 40 million people around the world are living with HIV and AIDS. Amongst these people only one in ten have been tested and know their HIV status i. With thousands of people becoming newly infected every day, including some 6000 young people, HIV and AIDS continues to be a devastating virus that affects the lives of people, families, communities, and nations.

No downloadable version

While there is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, there are various well developed medications that can help patients stay healthier and live longer lives, if they are diagnosed early and if the medications are taken properly.

In order to understand the relationship between masculinity and HIV, it is crucial to consider how we define masculinity, how conceptions of masculinity have changed and evolved historically. Recently, there has been much speculation that there are some possible links between the desire to demonstrate masculinity and its influence on risky behavior. Therefore it is crucial to look at how conceptions and manifestations of masculinity affect the behaviors of individuals and their risk of contracting HIV and AIDS.

How do we define masculinity?


Where do myths about HIV come from?

When AIDS first became identified by doctors and scientist in the 1980s, it was a very mysterious disease, causing the death of many people, and which doctors could not understand or explain at the time. Since then there are still many unanswered questions about the origins of AIDS and how it can be cured. Myths developed around the virus in part as people reacted with fear. Today, people living with HIV and AIDS must continue to challenge the prejudices and myths that are intimately associated with the virus and the people that are infected with it.


Anyone in society can be affected by HIV and AIDS, regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. However, discrimination and stigma makes socially and economically disadvantaged and marginalized groups of people even more vulnerable to infection i.

There are several methods of preventing and reducing the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS. In order to decrease the risk of contracting the virus, it is important to understand how the virus is spread. It is vital that both males and females practice safe sex in order to protect themselves and their partners from becoming infected with the virus.

Over 90 percent of an estimated 42 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS reside in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean where the resources are limited for prevention, detection and treatment. It is estimated that less than 10 percent are aware of their infected status because of the limited accessibility and availability of Voluntary Counselling and Testing. VCT is therefore a confidential, honest and inexpensive method to help people receive information, counselling and testing to determine their HIV status.

HIV and AIDS are intricately associated with stigma and discrimination, in part because the virus has historically been surrounded by mystery and fear. Individuals affected (or believed to be affected) by HIV and AIDS often experience rejection by their loved ones, health care providers, families, and communities.


Worldwide it is estimated that more than 15 million children under 18 have been orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS. Of these children more than 12 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. As HIV infections increase among the adult population in Africa, millions more children will lose their parents to the AIDS epidemic.