Background In Ethiopian Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention program one of the focusing areas is prevention of mother-to-child transmission and decreasing morbidity and mortality among those who already acquired it. However, the needs and the sexual behavior of children who acquired HIV perinatally was not given due attention. Therefore, we conducted this study with the aim of exploring the lived experiences of youth who acquired HIV perinatally to contribute to HIV prevention and control program. Methods We conducted a qualitative study using a phenomenological approach from March to May 2018 among 16 purposively selected youth who were infected with HIV vertically and receive ART services at Zewditu Memorial Hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They were recruited based on their willingness after obtaining written informed consent and assent. Data were audio taped, transcribed verbatim in Amharic and later translated to English, and coded using Open Code version 4.02 software. Findings were summarized under four themes by applying interpretative phenomenological analysis. Findings Seven males and nine females, aged 16 to 22 years have participated in the study. These youth reported as they had support from families and ART clinics, while pill-load, and fear of stigma are some of challenges they have faced, especially majorities don't want to disclose their status because of fear of stigma and discrimination. Half of them have ever had sexual relations usually with a seronegative partner and most of these had their first sex in their17-18 years of age. Unsafe sex was common among them where four girls reported to have had unprotected sex with their seropositive or seronegative sexual partners. Most wish to have purposeful life and love mate of the same serostatus but also fear they may remain alone. Conclusion Youth who had acquired HIV from parents are challenged due to their serostatus and were not sure what type of life they may have in the future. They were also not comfortable in disclosing their serostatus and also engaged in unsafe sexual relation. This calls for an urgent intervention among HIV infected youth and their families; health care providers, and young people in general to halt HIV transmission. Special attention should be given on sexual behavior of all young people (10-24) and in disclosure of HIV status to children and life skills education to cop-up with stigma and discrimination.