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HIV: How to Protect Yourself and Others

The most effective way to prevent HIV is to abstain from sexual activity and injection drug use. However, if you are sexually active or use injection drugs, today there are more tools available to prevent HIV. You can:

Does Hiv Viral Load Affect Getting Or Transmitting Hiv

Yes. Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of someone who has HIV. If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine can reduce a personâs HIV viral load very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness. This is called viral suppression, defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.

HIV medicine can also make the viral load so low that a standard lab test canât detect it. This is called having an undetectable level viral load. Almost everyone who takes HIV medicine as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within 6 months after starting treatment.

As noted above, people with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIVto their HIV-negative partnersthrough sex.

HIV medicine is a powerful tool for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. But it works only if the HIV-positive partner gets and keeps an undetectable viral load. Not everyone taking HIV medicine has an undetectable viral load. To stay undetectable, people with HIV must take HIV medicine as prescribed and visit their health care provider regularly to get a viral load test. Learn more.

People Who Are At Increased Risk

HIV can affect anyone but people who are at a higher risk include:

  • men who have had unprotected sex with men
  • women who have had unprotected sex with men who have sex with men
  • people who have had unprotected sex with a person who has lived in, or travelled in, Africa
  • people who inject drugs
  • people who have had unprotected sex with somebody who has injected drugs
  • people who have another sexually transmitted infection
  • people who have received a blood transfusion while in Africa, eastern Europe, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Asia or central and southern America

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What Are Hiv And Aids

  • HIV is a virus that attacks and weakens a persons immune system. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body and fight off germs and diseases.
  • If the immune system of an HIV-positive person gets so weak that it can no longer fight off a range of health problems it would normally be able to cope with, the person is considered to have AIDS.
  • When a person has sex with someone who has the HIV virus and they do not use a condom
  • When people exchange infected needles or syringes
  • During pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, when an HIV-positive mom can pass the virus to her baby .
  • There is no cure for HIV, but there are medicines that can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. So long as a person gets proper medical treatment for HIV, they can usually live a healthy, active life.
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    After Sterilization If You Have Sex With A Hiv+ Person Can You Still Get Infected


    Sterilization is a surgical procedure by which the tube that carriesthe sperm in males or the fallopian tubes in females are cut or blocked. This is done as a birth controlmethod for people who do not want to have any more children but wantto continue having sex. HIV is transferred during sex and itstransmissibility is not changed depending on whether a person issterilized or not. Sterilization does NOT stop the production ofseminal fluids in men or vaginal discharge in women . So having sex after sterilization with a HIV positiveperson without using a latex condom is very risky and can transmit HIVinfection.

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    Is There Risk Of Hiv Transmission When Having A Tattoo Body Piercing Or Getting A Hair Cut Or Shave

    There is a risk of HIV transmission if instruments contaminated with blood are not sterilized between clients. However, people who carry out body piercing or tattooing should follow procedures called ‘universal precautions’, which are designed to prevent the transmission of blood borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B.

    When having a hair cut there is no risk of infection unless the skin is cut and infected blood gets into the wound. Traditional ‘cut-throat’ razors used by barbers now have disposable blades, which should only be used once, thus eliminating the risk from blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis and HIV.

    How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Hiv

    It’s very important to take your medications as prescribed and to make sure you dont miss appointments. This is called treatment adherence.

    If you miss medications, even by accident, HIV can change how it infects your cells , potentially causing your medications to stop working. If your schedule prevents you from taking medications on time or making it to appointments, talk to your healthcare provider.

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    What Stis Did You Each Get Tested For

    Did you know that most testing centers actually dont test you for all STIs even if you say, Test me for everything?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesnt recommend HSV testing for those without symptoms. Because of this, most doctors wont test for HSV unless a person has active genital sores.

    Similarly, most doctors wont test a person for HIV unless the doctor knows that the individual falls under what the as a high risk group.

    This includes:

  • every 5 years .
  • The bottom line: While you each may have been negative for the STIs you were tested for, its possible that one or more of you are positive for an STI that the doctor failed to check for.

    Protecting Yourself From Hiv

    Living with HIV

    Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares needles is at risk of HIV. The best way to prevent HIV is to use a condom for sex and to never share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment. Knowing your HIV status and that of your partner is also important.

    Cuts, sores and bleeding gums increase the risk of spreading HIV so you should cover any cuts or sores before sex, or avoid sex until they are healed.

    It is important to continue to practise safer sex even if you, and your sexual partner, both have HIV. This is because it is possible to expose yourself to a new strain of the virus that your medicine will not be able to control.

    Further advice and information is available on the link below

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    Stis Arent Always Transmitted Genitally

    The leading narrative says that STIs are only spread through genital-to-genital contact.

    And while thats the leading cause of transmission, it isnt the only cause, says Felice Gersh, MD, author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologists Lifeline to Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones, and Happiness.

    Not all sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted through genital-to-genital contact, says Gersh.

    In fact, some can be spread without sexual activity ever having taken place, adds Gersh.

    An STI can take root anywhere there are mucous membranes.

    This includes the:

    Yes. Its possible to have an STI even if youve never:

    • kissed another person
    • had penetrative sex of any kind
    • participated in any other sexual act

    STIs can get passed in nonsexual scenarios. Some ways include:

    • from parent to child during childbirth
    • from parent to child during chestfeeding
    • during a friendly kiss with a person who has a cold sore
    • by sharing a sex toy with a person who has an STI
    • via open cuts or sores

    No matter your sexual history, the only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested.

    Due to

    Its important to note, however, that untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can spread to the fallopian tubes and uterus and cause pelvic inflammatory disease, says Gersh.

    Of these, HSV is the infection most easily transferred from one place to another.

    Its also possible to spread gonorrhea and chlamydia to other parts of the body.

    STIs that can be completely cured include:

    How Hiv Is Transmitted

    HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.

    HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, 1 of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.

    The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:

    • vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
    • contact with animals or insects like mosquitoes

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    If Blood Cells Are The Hosts For Hiv/aids How Does Sex Cause It

    HIV is present in a number of bodily fluids other than the blood eventhough its host cells are mainly found in the blood and lymph fluids.For example, in the women it is also present in the vaginal secretionsand breast milk and in men in the seminal fluid. Since there is theexchange of vaginal secretions from woman to man and seminalfluid from man to woman during sex, sex can transmit HIV from aman to a woman or from a woman to a man . Also, sometimesthere is bleeding during sex, and since there is a higherconcentration of HIV in blood, such bleeding increases the chances oftransmission.

    Tattoos And Body Piercings

    • There are no known cases in the United States of anyone getting HIV this way.
    • However, it is possible to get HIV from tattooing or body piercing if the equipment used for these procedures has someone elses blood in it or if the ink is shared. This is more likely to happen when the person doing the procedure is unlicensed because of the potential for unsanitary practices such as sharing needles or ink.
    • If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure that the person doing the procedure is properly licensed and that they use only new or sterilized needles, ink, and other supplies.

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    Odds Of Getting Hiv From Shared Needles

    People who inject drugs are at high risk of getting HIV if they use and share needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment that someone with HIV has also used, according to the CDC.

    The risk of acquiring HIV this way is estimated to be .6 percent, says Harfouch. This number comes from a meta-analysis published in the journal AIDS that is one of the two main studies that have looked at per-act risk.

    About 10 percent of HIV diagnoses can be attributed to the use of injection drugs, according to the CDC. The reason is that needles, syringes, and other equipment can contain blood, and therefore HIV, and directly transmit the virus into another persons bloodstream. Under the right environmental circumstances, the virus can survive in a used needle up to 42 days.

    In addition, drug use can lower inhibitions, making people less likely to use a condom during sex or to take medications that can prevent HIV from taking hold after an exposure, further increasing the risk of transmission.

    The number of HIV diagnoses among people who inject drugs has been increasing since 2014, a trend that experts attribute to the opioid and heroin crisis.

    Can I Transmit Hiv To My Baby During Pregnancy Or Breastfeeding

    An HIV-infected pregnant woman can pass the virus on to her unborn baby either before or during birth. HIV can also be passed on during breastfeeding. If a woman knows that she is infected with HIV, there are drugs she can take to greatly reduce the chances of her child becoming infected. Other ways to lower the risk include choosing to have a caesarean section delivery and not breastfeeding.

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    Bites That Break The Skin

    A bite that opens the skin and causes bleeding can lead to the transmission of HIV. However, according to the

    goes up with increasing viral load.

    Viral load is highest both during the early phase of HIV and without treatment with antiretroviral medications. Taking antiretroviral medications every day can reduce a persons viral load to very low levels that cant be detected through testing.

    In this way, antiretroviral medications arent only a treatment, but an important tool for prevention. When HIV cant be detected in the blood, a person living with HIV cant sexually transmit the virus to a partner without HIV.

    This principle is called Undetectable = Untransmittable and has been supported by

    up to 6 months of taking antiretroviral medications each day to achieve an undetectable viral load.

    A persons viral load is said to be durably undetectable when all test results are undetectable for at least 6 months after the first undetectable result.

    Theres no need to be afraid of having casual contact with someone who is living with HIV. The virus doesnt live on the skin and cant live very long outside of the body.

    Additionally, bodily fluids like saliva, tears, and sweat dont transmit HIV either.

    Therefore, casual contact, such as holding hands, hugging, or sitting next to someone who has HIV, wont transmit the virus. Closed-mouth kissing isnt a threat either.

    These include:

    What Can I Expect If I Have Hiv

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    If youre diagnosed with HIV, its important to know that those living with HIV who follow treatment guidelines can live full lives for nearly as long as those without HIV.

    If you have a high CD4 count and an undetectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, research suggests youll have the best outcomes, as long as you continue your treatment plan.

    You can improve your outlook by:

    • Getting tested as part of routine healthcare or if you think youve been exposed.
    • Starting ART soon after being diagnosed.
    • Taking your medicine every day.
    • Keeping your appointments with your healthcare team.

    ART can keep blood levels undetectable but cant entirely rid your body of the virus . If you dont take your medication every day, the virus can start multiplying again and mutate, which may cause your medications to stop working.

    Left untreated, it can take about 10 years for HIV to advance to AIDS. If you progress to AIDS and it goes untreated, you can expect to live about three years more.

    For those on treatment, if you have a high CD4 count and undetectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, you can expect to live about as long as someone without HIV. If you have a low CD4 count or a detectable viral load within a year of starting treatment, you may live 10 to 20 years less than someone without HIV.

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    Can Medications Prevent Hiv

    There are medications that can help prevent HIV in people who have been exposed or are at high risk for exposure. These include pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis .

    Pre-exposure prophylaxis

    PrEP is a pill you take every day if you dont have HIV but are at high risk of getting infected.

    • You have a sexual partner with HIV.
    • You havent consistently used a condom.
    • In the past six months, youve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease .

    PrEP is also recommended if you dont have HIV, you inject drugs and at least one of the following is true:

    • You inject drugs with a partner who has HIV.
    • You share needles or other equipment to inject drugs.

    PrEP is not a replacement for other preventative measures. You should still use condoms and avoid sharing needles to inject drugs while taking PrEP.

    Post-exposure prophylaxis

    PEP uses HIV medicines to try to prevent an HIV infection soon after you are exposed. PEP is for those who dont have HIV or dont know if they have HIV and think theyve been exposed through consensual sex, sexual assault, shared needles , or work.

    You must start PEP within 72 hours of exposure and take it every day for 28 days. PEP is only for emergency use and does not replace other precautions, like condom use.

    Can I Become Infected With Hiv If I Inject Drugs And Share The Needles With Someone Else Without Sterilizing The Needles

    We strongly recommend that you use new equipment every time you inject. You can get new equipment from Counterpoint Needle & Syringe Program at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.

    There is a possibility of becoming infected with HIV if you share injecting equipment with someone who has the virus. If HIV infected blood remains inside the needle or in the syringe and someone else then uses it to inject themselves, that blood can be flushed into the bloodstream. Sharing needles, syringes, spoons, filters or water can pass on the virus. Disinfecting equipment between uses can reduce the likelihood of transmission, but does not eliminate it.

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