Boston HIV Adolescent Provider and Peer Education Network for Services (HAPPENS) | Patient Resources

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Boston HAPPENS provides services to youth, 12-24 years old, who are HIV positive or at risk for the disease and other STDs. HAPPENS also offers free HIV counseling and testing for teens and young adults, ages 13 and older, and free STI and Viral Hepatitis testing for young people 13-24 (see STI/Viral Hepatitis Screening and Referral page for eligibility requirements).

Support Services

We also provide HIV positive youth with a variety of counseling services, including:

  • Case management and connections to resource

  • Individual and group therapy

  • Referrals to groups

  • Support for family, friends and partners

For Youth at Risk for HIV, STIs, and Viral Hepatitis

  • Free HIV counseling and testing (also available for adults, ages 13 and older)

  • Free STI and Viral Hepatitis Screening and Referrals for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C

  • Free male and female condoms, lube, and other risk reduction and educational materials

  • Referrals for birth control, family planning, mental health, substance abuse counseling and other services

  • Post-exposure prophylaxis and HIV testing, follow-up and counseling for young people exposed to HIV through sex or needles or who are victims of sexual assault

HIV Facts


Am I really at risk for getting HIV?

You are always at risk for getting HIV/AIDS if you are having sex or sharing needles.

Having sex puts you at risk for HIV

  • It doesn't matter if you are heterosexual ("straight"), homosexual ("gay") or bisexual ("bi") - anytime you have sex you are at risk of getting HIV/AIDS.

  • You are at risk if you have ever had unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. You are also at risk for getting HIV/AIDS if you ever had a condom break or slip off during sex.

  • If your sexual partner has HIV or is at risk for HIV, you are also in danger of getting the disease.

  • If you have had an STI (sexually transmitted infection) or have been sexually assaulted you are also at risk.

  • Don't have sex while you are drunk or high since this puts you at a greater risk for getting HIV/AIDS.

  • The only way to make sure you are not at risk for getting HIV/AIDS is to not have sex and not share needles. But if you do decide to have sex, always use a condom!

Sharing needles puts you at risk for HIV

  • You are at risk for getting HIV/AIDS if you have ever shared needles or "works" to inject drugs or steroids.

  • You are also at risk if you have ever shared needles for tattooing or piercing.

  • The only way to make sure you are not at risk for getting HIV/AIDS is to not share needles and not have sex. But if you do decide to use needles, always use clean ones!

HIV affects millions of youth in the world

  • HIV/AIDS has had a tremendous effect on tens of millions of people throughout the world. Get this - in 2006 there were 40 million people living with HIV in the world. And the sad part is that only 1.3 million of these people have access to treatment.1

  • In 2005 there were approximately 14,000 new HIV infections every single day. Of these new infections, more than 1,900 were in children under age 15. 

  • In the world, young people, 15 to 24, account for over 40 percent of new adult HIV infections globally. 3 In fact, people under the age of 25 are estimated to account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide. 

  • During 2006, approximately 8.11 percent of newly infected people with HIV were children. 

American youth are still getting HIV every day

  • HIV/AIDS affects the lives of Americans of all ages, including young people. Thirteen new young people are diagnosed every day in the U.S. with HIV/AIDS- one new diagnosis every 108 minutes. 

  • Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to 1994, approximately 944,306 AIDS cases were diagnosed in the United States. Of that number, more than 40,000 of the cases were among young people, 13 to 24. 

  • And in 2004, young people, 13 to 24, made up an estimated 13 percent (4,883) of newly diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases. 

How are American youth still getting HIV/AIDS?

  • While some young Americans get HIV/AIDS from sharing needles, most American youth are being infected sexually. 

  • And the numbers of young people having sex is growing and putting more of them at risk for the disease. In 2003, 47 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse- 7.4 percent of them reported having their first sexual intercourse before age 13. 

  • While many young people are having sex earlier, most are not being tested for HIV/AIDS. Only 19 percent of teens, 15 to 19, report ever being tested for HIV. 

  • And many American young people are still not being educated on HIV/AIDS and how they can get it. In a KFF survey, 37 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds were unsure if they could get HIV from sharing a glass, kissing or touching a toilet seat. You cannot get HIV/AIDS from any of these. 

Massachusetts youth are still getting HIV/AIDS

  • HIV/AIDS continues to affect the Massachusetts community including its youth population. In 2005, there were 842 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in Massachusetts (MA)- 2.3 people in MA received an HIV diagnosis every day. 

  • Fifty-nine new MA young people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2005. 

  • In 2005, less than 1 percent of people diagnosed with HIV infection were under 13 years old, 7 percent of people in MA diagnosed with HIV were 13 to 24 years old. 

  • On December 31, 2005, 1 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS were under 13 years old, 2 percent were 13 to 24 years old and 3 percent were 25 to 29 years old in MA. 

  • More young females in MA were diagnosed with HIV infection than males in 2005- 11 percent of females, 13 to 24 years old, compared to 6 percent of males. 

  • On December 31, 2004, of people living with HIV/AIDS in MA, 1,446 (10 percent) were diagnosed with HIV infection at ages 13- to 24-years-old. 

  • Among individuals living with HIV/AIDS who were ages 13 to 24 years on December 31, 2004, 46 percent were female, compared to 28 percent of those age 25 years and older.

Sources for our statistics:



  • (November 06, Fact Sheet #3030-08)


  • CDC HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2004. Vol. 16. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC: 2005: 1 - 46.

  • (September 06, Fact Sheet #3040-03)



Youth Services Directory


Includes organizations in the Boston area specializing in HIV/AIDS/STD prevention and education, primary medical care, mental health, substance abuse and faith-based organizations.



BMC Public Health Clinic 


Domestic Violence Hotline


MA AIDS Hotline


MA Commonwealth Connector


Massachusetts Sexual Health Helpline


MA Substance Abuse Hotline


Mayor's Youthline


National Clinician's Post-Exposure Prophylaxis


National Hopeline


National Runaway Hotline


Peer Listening Line (GLBT support)


Health Education

Boston HAPPENS is a proud member of CARE for Youth, a state-wide coalition that is working to keep kids safe and healthy by passing legislation to make comprehensive health education a reality for all Massachusetts public school students.

Helpful Links

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England's oldest and largest provider of AIDS services, education and advocacy.

AIDSinfo is a service of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services offering info on HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and research.

Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth (BAGLY) is a youth-led, adult-supported, social support organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, questioning youth and their straight allies, 22 years old and under.

Boston Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS) is a non-profit project of JRI Health committed to giving gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young adults a safe place to meet, talk and hang out.

Boston Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) is a research program that works to educate health care providers on how to care for teens. Features a list of health services and resources for teens for things like mental health, eating disorders, sexuality, girl power and substance abuse.

Center for Young Women's Health provides information on general health & nutrition, reproductive health issues, emotional health and much more for teen girls.

Boston Children's Hospital is the website for Boston Children's Hospital, one of the nation's top pediatric medical institutions, with links to health information, hospital departments and other hospital programs.

Health Initiatives for Youth (HIFY) is working to improve access to prevention, care and treatment for adolescents living with, and at-risk of, HIV infection.

HIV InSite is an HIV information resource project sponsored by the University of California at San Francisco. is an HIV/AIDS testing informational website sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). is for patients, employers and providers and explains the new law in Massachusetts requiring that adults 18 and over have health insurance. It also provides health insurance resources. 

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reaches out to America's teen girls and young women about the dangerous link between non-injecting drug abuse and HIV.

National Prevention Information Network shares HIV/AIDS and STD resources and information about education and prevention and has published materials and research findings, as well as news about related trends.

Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is a program that offers training for teens on sexuality and relationships, as well as pregnancy counseling and other reproductive health care services.

The Body is an HIV/AIDS resource with access to a 15,000-document library. is a site to help teens find health info and services in Massachusetts that meet their needs.


HIV Counseling & Testing


If you are a teen or young adult, ages 13 and older, you will receive both a free HIV test and free counseling during your visit to the Boston HAPPENS Program.

Testing is safe and easy:

  • Testing is FREE for ALL teens and young adults, ages 13 and older.

  • It's confidential. No one will know.

  • You may have a blood test, or an oral fluid test if you don't like needles.

  • You do not need permission from your parent or guardian to get tested.

  • You can now get your results the same day with an HIV Rapid Test Click here for frequently asked questions about HIV Rapid Testing.

  • You may also be eligible to receive free STI testing. Click here for more information.

Plus, counselors are on hand during your HIV test to answer all of your questions, including:

  • How to reduce your risk for HIV

  • What to do if you have tested positive for HIV

  • How to help a friend who may have HIV

  • How to help a family member who may have HIV

  • How to have safe sex and healthy relationships

  • Where to get emergency "morning after" contraception treatment

Treatment & Counseling Walk-in Hours





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We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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