8 Simple Steps to Prevent HIV

HIV prevention is not just about following rules. It's about knowing who you are, what you believe, and when to act in order to protect yourself and others from infection. It requires an informed, holistic approach—one which enables you to do more than just roll the dice, but to understand the very dynamics of infection and ways to prevent it from happening.

Here are 8 important tips to building an effective, individualized HIV prevention strategy.


Know the Difference Between High and Low Risk Activities

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When it comes to HIV prevention, the question that most people will ask is: "Can I get HIV from [BLANK]?" The truth is there remains a lot of misconceptions about HIV transmission—often underestimating, but sometimes even overestimating potential risk. Informed prevention starts by getting the facts straight, understanding the modes of transmission, and identifying which activities put you, as an individual, at personal risk.


Take PrEP to Reduce Your Risk of Getting HIV

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Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prevention strategy wherein thedaily use of a single antiretroviral pill can significantly reduce a person's risk of getting HIV. The evidence-based approach is considered both an important part of an overall prevention strategy and a means to reduce infection rates in at-risk populations. Learn more about PrEP and whether it's the right prevention strategy for you.


Start Therapy to Avoid Passing the Virus to Others

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Treatment as Prevention (TasP) is an evidence-based approach by which HIV-infected persons with an undetectable viral load are far less likely to transmit the virus to other. Studies have shown that an HIV-infected person on successful antiretroviral therapy is up to 96% less likely to infect a partner in a mixed-status relationship. Learn more about TasP and what it means to you if you have HIV.


Avoid Common Condom Mistakes

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There is no reason to be lax when it comes to condoms. Condoms are still the best, proven method for HIV prevention short of complete abstinence. And despite what some might tell you, the main reason that condoms fail is not because of the condom, but because of incorrect and/or inconsistent use. Ultimately, safer sex means using a condom consistently each and every time you engage in sexual activities. Here are some great tips that can help.


Learn How to Safely Conceive a Child

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Nearly half of all HIV-affected couples are serodiscordant, meaning that one partner is HIV-positive while the other is HIV-negative. With major advances in antiretroviral therapy, serodiscordant couples have far greater opportunities to conceive than ever—enabling pregnancy while minimizing the risk of transmission to the uninfected partner. Learn what health authorities currently recommend for mix-status couples in the U.S.


Avoid Passing the Virus to Your Baby During Pregnancy

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Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (pMTCT) encompasses all stages of pregnancy, from antenatal to postnatal care. Key to its success is early intervention. With appropriate perinatal care, including the provision of antiretroviral therapy for both mother and child, the risk of transmission is now less than 2%.


Avoid Sharing Needles If You're a Drug User

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The rate of HIV among injecting drug users (IDUs) is high, with estimates suggesting that anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent have acquired infection as a result of shared needle use. But it's only users who are at risk but they're sexual partners who are sometimes wholly unaware of their drug used. Government-sponsored needle exchange programs (NEPs) are available in many U.S. states to better address this crisis, as well as the spread of other blood-borne diseases.


Act Fast If You've Been Exposed to HIV

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If you believe you may have been exposed to HIV, either through unprotected sex or other high-risk activities, there are medications that can greatly reduce the risk of infection called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Research has shown that PEP can reduce the risk of HIV by up to 81% if started as soon as possible after exposure. The bottom line is don't delay.

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