Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection - Prevention
You can keep from getting
HIV by avoiding
behaviors that might result in contact with infected
semen, or vaginal fluids.
Practice safe sex to prevent HIV.
Always use a
condom during sexual activity, unless you are in a
relationship with one partner who does not have HIV or other sex
If you do have sex with someone who has HIV, it is
important to practice safe sex and to be regularly tested for
Reduce your number of sex partners, preferably to one
Talk with your sex partner or partners about their sexual
history as well as your own sexual history. Find out whether your partner has
Avoid alcohol and
drugs, which can impair both your judgment and your
immune system. People who know and understand safer
sex practices may not practice them when they are under the influence of
alcohol or drugs.
Do not share
intravenous (IV) needles, syringes, cookers, cotton,
cocaine spoons, or eyedroppers with others if you use drugs.
You may also be able to take a combination medicine (tenofovir plus emtricitabine) every day to help prevent infection with HIV. This medicine can lower the risk of getting HIV.11, 12 But the medicine is expensive, and you still need to practice safe sex to keep your risk low.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, at no cost to you. Learn more.
If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) when your immune system is still healthy. A large study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that the risk of spreading HIV to an uninfected partner was reduced by 96% when the HIV-positive partner started treatment before his or her CD4 count dropped below 350.13 This study was done mainly with heterosexual couples, so the effectiveness of HIV treatment in preventing the spread of HIV to a same-sex partner may be different.
If you are HIV-positive (infected with HIV) or have engaged
in sex or needle-sharing with someone who could be infected with HIV, take
precautions to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Tell your sex partner or partners about your
behavior and whether you are HIV-positive.
Follow safe sex
practices, such as using condoms.
Do not donate blood, plasma,
semen, body organs, or body tissues.
not share personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or sex toys, that may
be contaminated with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
The risk of a woman spreading HIV to her baby can be
greatly reduced if she is on medicine that reduces her viral load (HIV RNA) to
undetectable levels during pregnancy, if she receives AZT (ZDV) before the baby
is born, and if she does not breast-feed her baby. The baby should also receive
treatment after it is born.
If you do not regularly engage in
high-risk behaviors for HIV, such as having unprotected sex or injecting drugs,
and you feel you have been exposed this way, contact your doctor as soon as
possible. He or she may recommend medicine if your exposure was within the past