Not having sex is a 100% effective way to make sure you don’t get or transmit HIV through sex. If you’re sexually active, there are more tools available today to prevent HIV than ever before. Here’s what you can do:
Use condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Using condoms when you have anal or vaginal sex can help protect you and your partners from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If used the right way every time you have sex, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection. But condoms can sometimes break or come off during sex. Using a water-based or silicone lubricant can help prevent condoms from breaking or slipping. Learn how to use condoms correctly and talk with your partner about condoms and safer sex.
Oral sex is much less risky than anal or vaginal sex. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for HIV transmission. There is extremely low to no risk of getting HIV through oral sex. Sexual activities that don’t involve contact with body fluids (i.e., semen, vaginal fluid, or blood) carry no risk of HIV transmission.
Having multiple sex partners increases your risk for HIV and for other STDs.
If you’re HIV-negative, consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking HIV medicines daily to prevent HIV infection. If taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use. But it’s much less effective if you don’t take it consistently.
PrEP is recommended for people who are HIV-negative and at risk for getting the virus from sex or injection drug use.
For sexual transmission, this includes people without HIV who:
•Have a sexual partner with HIV (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load)
•Have not consistently used a condom
•Have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past 6 months
For people who inject drugs, this includes those who have an injection partner with HIV, or have shared needles, syringes, or
other injection equipment .
If you’re HIV-negative, talk to your doctor right away (within 3 days) about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you have a recent possible exposure to HIV.
An example of a possible exposure is if you have anal or vaginal sex without using a condom, or the condom breaks or slips while having sex, with someone who has or may have HIV, and you’re HIV-negative and not taking PrEP. Starting PEP immediately and taking it daily for 28 days reduces your chance of getting HIV.
If your partner with HIV is taking HIV medicine as prescribed and keeps an undetectable viral load, they have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to you through sex.
STDs can have long-term health consequences, and they can increase your chance of transmitting HIV or getting HIV.
If you have HIV, take HIV medicine, called antiretroviral therapy (ART) to get and keep an undetectable viral load.
You can protect your partner from HIV if you take ART daily as prescribed AND get and keep an undetectable viral load.
ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they’ve had the virus or how healthy they are. ART can reduce the amount of HIV (viral load) in the body. Taking ART as prescribed can make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it. This is called an undetectable viral load. If a person with HIV keeps an undetectable viral load, they can stay healthy for many years and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV through sex.
If you’re taking ART, follow your health care provider's advice.
Visit your health care provider regularly and always take your medicines as prescribed.
If your partner has HIV, encourage your partner to get and stay on treatment.
This is the most important thing your partner can do to protect their own health. If you are HIV-negative and your partner with HIV takes their HIV medicine daily as prescribed AND is able to get and keep an undetectable viral load, there is effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to you.
If you are HIV-negative and your partner with HIV has an undetectable viral load, you or your partner may want to use additional prevention.
Using a condom the right way every time you have sex can protect you from other STDs. Using condoms or having the HIV-negative partner take daily medicine to prevent HIV (called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP can provide added peace of mind. Also consider using additional prevention methods if the partner with HIV
You and your partner(s) should learn about all the available prevention options and make the decisions that are right for both of you.
If you keep using needles, syringes, or other injection equipment, here are some things you can do to protect yourself and others.
Use only your own new, sterile syringes and injection equipment each time you inject.
Use only your own sterile syringes. Never share syringes, needles, or other injection equipment. Be aware that HIV can survive in a used syringe for up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
Use bleach to clean needles, syringes, cookers, and surfaces where drugs are prepared when you can’t get new ones. This may reduce the risk of HIV and hepatitis C but doesn’t eliminate it. Bleaching a used syringe may reduce the risk of HIV and hepatitis C but doesn’t eliminate it. Here are instructions on using bleach to clean your syringes..
Use sterile water to fix drugs. You can buy sterile water from a store. If you can’t get sterile water, use water that has been boiled for 10 minutes or clean tap or bottled water.
If you inject around other people, be careful not to get someone else’s blood on your hands, needles, syringes, or other injection equipment.
If you inject around other people, be careful not to get someone else’s blood on your hands or your needle or works.
Dispose of syringes and needles safely after one use. You can use a sharps container or another container like an empty bleach or laundry detergent bottle. Make sure to keep used syringes away from other people. Some communities have drop boxes where you can dispose of your used syringes safely.