The Sunday News
If you are living with HIV, the most important thing you can do to prevent transmission and stay healthy is to take your HIV medication (known as antiretroviral therapy or ART), every day, exactly as prescribed.
People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
There also are other options to choose from, below.
If you are HIV-negative, you have several options for protecting yourself from HIV. The more of these actions you take, the safer you can be.
-Use condoms-. Condoms are highly effective at preventing HIV infection if you use them the right way every time you have sex. Learn the right way to use a male condom and a female condom.
-Reduce your number of sexual partners-. This can lower your chances of having a partner who could transmit HIV to you.
The more partners you have, the more likely you are to have a partner with HIV whose viral load is not suppressed or to have a sex partner with a sexually transmitted disease. Both of these factors can increase the risk of HIV transmission.
-Talk to your doctor about PrEP-. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is daily medication that can reduce your chance of getting HIV. Taken every day, PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. PrEP might benefit you if you are HIV-negative and have an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner. PrEP also should be considered if you are not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and you are someone who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at very high risk of HIV infection.
-Take PEP within 72 hours after a possible HIV exposure-. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) means taking HIV medication after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. If you are HIV-negative or do not know your HIV status and think you have recently been exposed to HIV during sex (for example, if the condom breaks), talk to your health care provider or an emergency room doctor about PEP right away (within 3 days). The sooner you start PEP, the better; every hour counts. If you are prescribed PEP, you will need to take it once or twice daily for 28 days.
-Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision-Conclusive research shows that medical male circumcision substantially reduces men’s risk of acquiring HIV infection through vaginal sex, making it an important addition to HIV prevention strategies. It is scientifically proven that getting circumcised reduces a man’s chances of becoming infected with HIV by about 60 percent.
-Get tested and treated for other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and encourage your partners to do the same-. If you are sexually active, get tested at least once a year. Having other STDs increases your risk for getting or transmitting HIV. STDs can also have long-term health consequences. Find an STD testing site.
νIf you are HIV-negative and your partner is HIV-positive, encourage your partner to get and stay on HIV treatment-.
If taken daily as prescribed, HIV medication (ART) reduces the amount of HIV in the blood (the viral load) to a very low level.
This is called having an undetectable viral load. People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can stay healthy and have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.