Your health is worth protecting.
Here are ways you can stop the spread of HIV:
Know your HIV status. Get tested.
- If you’re negative, you can stay that way by reducing your risks for infection.
- If you’re positive, you can take steps to stop the spread of HIV to your partner, plus you can get support and take proactive steps to get the right care.
- An ‘undetectable viral load’ does NOT mean ‘no HIV infection’. The virus can still be transmitted.
Know your partner’s HIV status. Ask the question.
- Discussing your HIV and STD status shows you care about your own health and your partner’s.
- Knowing your status helps you both determine the appropriate steps to take to stop the spread of HIV and other STDs.
Set healthy limits.
- Learn about the risks associated with different types of behaviors.
- Plan ahead, and have a supply of condoms, dental dams, and/or lube handy for when you need them in a place that’s easy to access.
- Talk to your partners so they know your risk limits.
- Have a plan for getting away from scenes that may become violent or dangerous.
- Stick to your risk limits. Don’t let alcohol, drugs, or the heat of the moment keep you from protecting yourself.
Be aware of what’s going on around you.
- Pay attention to your body and your partner’s. Cuts, sores, or bleeding gums can increase the risk for transmitting HIV.
- Keep a clear head. Alcohol and drug use impairs your judgment and can increase your risk of HIV infection. People tend to take risks and engage in behaviors on drugs and alcohol that they wouldn’t take normally.
- Know the people around you if you get high.
- Locate the exits in case the scene becomes violent or dangerous.
Get checked annually for STDs.
- HIV is not the only sexually transmitted disease. Many STDs are easier to contract than HIV.
- If you’re sexually active, you should get an STD screening once a year from your doctor or the health department.
What if Both People Are Already Infected?
Some people who are HIV-infected don’t see the need to follow safer sex guidelines when they are sexual with other infected people. However, it still makes sense to “play safe.” If you don’t, you could be exposed to other sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), or syphilis.
If you already have HIV, these diseases can be more serious. Choosing a sex partner based on their HIV infection status is called “sero sorting.” A recent study showed that this is not a very effective way to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Also, you might get “re-infected” with a different strain of HIV. This new version of HIV might not be controlled by the medications you are taking. It might also be resistant to other antiretroviral drugs. There is no way of knowing how risky it is for two HIV-positive people to have unsafe sex. Following the guidelines for safer sex will reduce the risk.