Reducing Your Risk of AIDS
Do Not Have Unprotected Sex
Having sex is the most likely way to get HIV infection. Sex is any act that results in the exchange of bodily fluids. Anyone at risk for HIV should get an HIV test.
Steps to help lower the risk of HIV are:
- Using a latex condom and water-based lubricants during every sex act.
- Limiting the number of sex partners.
- Learning about current sex partners' HIV status and HIV risks.
- Finding out about if partners had any prior sexually transmitted infections (STI). These increase the risk of HIV.
Being circumcised may also lower a man's risk of HIV.
Do Not Share Needles or Syringes
Used needles or syringes should not be used. They may be contaminated with HIV infected blood. This can cause a person to get infected.
Medicines to Prevent Infection
PrEP (preexposure prophylaxis) can help reduce the risk of HIV infection. PrEP is medicine prescribed by a doctor. The medicine is given to those at high risk for HIV. It may be given to:
- Those who inject IV drugs and share needles
- Those with a sexual partner who is HIV positive
- Men who have sex with men
- Anyone else at high risk for HIV
Other medicines may be given, such as:
- Treatment-as-prevention (TAsP)â¤for people with HIV, to reduce the risk of spreading it to their partners.
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)â¤medicine given after a possible exposure to HIV.
For Healthcare Workers or Caregivers
HIV is spread through contact with infected blood and body fluids. Those who work with patients can help prevent HIV by:
- Wearing gloves and face masks during all proceduresâ¤or when handling body fluids.
- Properly handling and disposing needles.
- Following universal precautions.
- Covering all cuts and sores with bandages.
Blood products are screened for HIV. However, there is still a small risk. Tests cannot detect HIV right after a person gets it. Some people donate their own blood before surgery instead.
- Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://hab.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hab/clinical-quality-management/2014guide.pdf. Updated April 2014. Accessed September 17, 2018.
- HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/HIVAIDS/Understanding/Pages/whatAreHIVAIDS.aspx. Accessed September 17, 2018.
- HIV prevention. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/hiv-prevention. Accessed March 14, 2022.
- HIV prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prevention.html. Accessed March 14, 2022
- Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/postexposure-prophylaxis-pep-for-hiv. Accessed March 14, 2022.
- Preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/preexposure-prophylaxis-prep-for-hiv. Accessed March 14, 2022
- Protect yourself during sex. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/hiv-prevention/protect-yourself-during-sex.html. Accessed March 14, 2022.
- David L. Horn, MD, FACP
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