Get Tested For Hiv As Soon As Possible To Know Your Status
- If you have HIV, the sooner you start treatment the betterfor your health and your babys health and to prevent transmitting HIV to your partner.
- If you dont have HIV, but you or your partner engage in behaviors that put you at risk for HIV, get tested again in your third trimester.
- You should also encourage your partner to get tested for HIV.
How To Prevent Hiv Infection
This article was co-authored by Dale Prokupek, MD. Dale Prokupek, MD is a board-certified Internist and Gastroenterologist who runs a private practice based in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Prokupek is also a staff physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles . Dr. Prokupek has over 30 years of medical experience and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the liver, stomach, and colon, including chronic hepatitis C, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, anal condyloma, and digestive diseases related to chronic immune deficiency. He holds a BS in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin Madison and an MD from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed an internal medicine residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a gastroenterology fellowship at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 156,417 times.
HIV is a serious, lifelong infection that can lead to AIDS when left untreated. There are many myths about how HIV is transmitted, so do not assume that what you’ve heard is correct. Educate yourself before you inject drugs or have sex, even if you think it’s safe or “not real sex.”
What If I Keep Missing Doses
Wohl explained that people most commonly miss antiretroviral medication doses because of events in their life that cause chaos or get in the way of pill-taking. Its not because HIV antiretroviral pills are harder to take than other pills or because they cause more side effects.
Be honest with provider and tell them how often doses of meds are being missed and why. Asking for help with adherence earns you cred and lets provider find ways to help. Pill boxes, setting a cell phone reminder, getting a family member or friend to help are all examples of interventions that could support medication taking, Wohl said.
Your provider is there to help, and wants to see you do well. If you have any issues with your medications, its best to talk to your provider about it right away. If youre uncomfortable with your current medication regimen, your provider might be able to work with you to find one thats a better fit.
Wohl said that providers can also provide medications that are less likely to lead to drug-resistant HIV. For some regimens, the virus has to do many more tricks to become mutated and therefore less susceptible to the drug. These can be used in those who may be with their meds, said Wohl.
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How Is Hiv Spread
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by:
- Having sex with someone who has HIV. In general:
- Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. Receptive anal sex is riskier than insertive anal sex .
- Vaginal sex is the second highest-risk sexual behavior.
- Having many sex partners or having other STDs can increase the chances of getting HIV through sex.
Less commonly, HIV may be spread by:
- Oral sex. The chances of getting HIV through oral sex are much less than from anal or vaginal sex. Learn more about oral sex and HIV risk.
What Prevention Method Are You Most Likely To Use
As you consider your options, think about which method you will be most likely to use. You can use different methods based on your needs in different situations. You should also consider whether or not you can use a prevention method the right way every time, because a prevention method will only work when you use it correctly.
The method you decide to use may also depend on the prevention methods your partners are using. If you are going to rely on a method your partner is using then you need to know that they are using it the right way every time.
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How Is Hiv Transmitted
The person-to-person spread of HIV is called HIV transmission. People can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities, such as sex or injection drug use. HIV can be transmitted only in certain body fluids from a person who has HIV:
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
HIV transmission is only possible if these fluids come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or are directly injected into the bloodstream . Mucous membranes are found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by:
- Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV
HIV can also spread from a woman with HIV to her child during pregnancy, childbirth , or breastfeeding. This is called perinatal transmission of HIV. Perinatal transmission of HIV is also called mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
You cannot get HIV from casual contact with a person who has HIV, such as a handshake, a hug, or a closed-mouth kiss. And you cannot get HIV from contact with objects, such as toilet seats, doorknobs, or dishes used by a person who has HIV.
Use the You Can Safely ShareWith Someone With HIV infographic from HIVinfo to spread this message.
What You Can Do
If you have HIV, it is important that you start medical care and begin HIV treatment right away. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. ART slows the progression of HIV and helps protect your immune system . ART can keep you healthy for a long time and prevent sexual transmission of HIV as long as you keep an undetectable viral load.
If youre taking ART, visit your health care provider regularly and always take your medicine as prescribed to keep your viral load as low as possible. If your viral load doesnt go down with ART, talk to your health care provider about your treatment options or get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in HIV.
If youre HIV-negative and have a partner with HIV, encourage your partner to get in care and always take ART as prescribed to live a longer, healthier life and reduce the chances of transmitting HIV to you.
Health insurance will generally cover part or all of the cost for medicine used to treat HIV.
Cost can be a barrier to getting treatment. If someone doesnt have health insurance or cant afford the copay or co-insurance amount, they may be able to get help through Medicaid, Medicare, the Ryan White Care HIV/AIDS Program, and community health centers. A health care provider or the local public health department can tell people with HIV where to get HIV treatment.
Explore other resources from CDC:
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Can I Take Medicines To Prevent Getting Hiv
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, can lower the risk of getting HIV by taking a pill every day. It is for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it.
CDC recommends that PrEP be considered for people who are HIV-negative and at substantial risk for HIV.
For sexual transmission, this includes anyone who is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner. It also includes anyone who 1) is not in a mutually monogamous* relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative, and 2) is
- a gay or bisexual man who has had anal sex without a condom or been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months or
- a heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status who are at substantial risk of HIV infection .
For people who inject drugs, this includes those who have injected illicit drugs in the past 6 months and who have shared equipment or been in drug treatment for injection drug use in the past 6 months.
For heterosexual couples where one partner has HIV and the other does not, PrEP is one of several options to protect the uninfected partner during conception and pregnancy.
People who use PrEP must be willing to take the drug every day and to return to their provider every 3 months for a repeat HIV test, prescription refills, and follow-up.
Some people on PrEP may have side effects like an upset stomach or loss of appetite but these are mild and usually go away in the first month.
Promising Routes To Hiv Prevention
The report, released here at the XVI International AIDS Conference, surveyed the state of research on six promising approaches for the prevention of HIV: male circumcision cervical barriers such as diaphragms HIV “prevention pills” suppression of herpes, which raises the risk of contracting HIV threefold topical microbicides and HIV vaccines.
1. Male Circumcision
A trial of over 3,000 young men showed that those who are circumcised are about 60% less likely to be infected with HIV, compared with those who are not circumcised, says Gita Ramjee, PhD, of the HIV Prevention Research Unit of the South Africa Medical Research Unit.
And another study predicted that widespread implementation of male circumcision could avert 2 million new infections in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
But circumcisions must be safely performed by trained health providers — something that is lacking in many developing countries, the report notes.
Gels and creams applied to the vagina or rectum to reduce HIV transmission, microbicides are a hot area of research, Ramjee says.
They can combat HIV on a variety of fronts: disabling the virus, interfering with the process by which the virus enters and takes hold in cells, and even strengthening the body’s defenses against infection.
As of mid-2006, there were over 25 products in various stages of development, with five in late-stage studies of effectiveness. Results could be available by late 2007, Ramjee says.
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Prep Delivery System: Clinical Care And Public Health Collaborative Care Models
Health departments, community-based organizations , and clinics can form partnerships as part of a comprehensive PrEP Care System to make PrEP available, accessible, and acceptable. A continuum of PrEP care, like the one below*, provides a framework for the steps needed for population health and prevention with PrEP.
Click image to enlarge
How Can I Prevent Getting Hiv From Anal Or Vaginal Sex
Choose less risky sexual behaviors, limit your number of sex partners, use condoms, use medicines to prevent HIV if appropriate, and get checked for sexually transmitted diseases . The more of these actions you take, the safer you can be.
Specifically, you can:
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Ask Every Partner Before Having Sex Whether They Have Hiv
Communication is crucial. Before having sex with someone for the first time, make sure both of you have been tested recently for sexually transmitted infections , including HIV and other viruses. If your sexual partner is HIV positive, medications are available that can lower the risk that they will transmit the virus to you.
Can Hiv Be Prevented
To reduce the risk of getting HIV, people who are sexually active should:
- use a condom every time they have sex
- get tested for HIV and make sure all partners do too
- reduce their number of sexual partners
- get tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
- consider taking a medicine every day if they are at very high risk of getting infected
- Do not inject drugs or share any kind of needle.
- Do not share razors or other personal objects that may touch blood.
- Do not touch anyone else’s blood from a cut or sore.
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Dont Worry About Casual Contact
If you know or live with someone with HIV, you donât need to worry about getting the virus through day-to-day contact. You can hug them, shake their hand, use the same toilet, drink from the same glass, or even kiss them on the mouth without worry. While HIV spreads through blood and body fluids like semen, this doesnât happen with saliva. You also canât get HIV if you eat a meal made by someone whoâs HIV positive. Even if small amounts of HIV-infected blood got in the food, the virus canât survive long outside a body, and your stomach acid would destroy it.
Itâs best not to share the same toothbrush or to eat food thatâs been already chewed by someone with HIV. Although very rare, there have been reports of infection in both cases. This is because if thereâs any blood in the infected personâs mouth, it can enter yours if you have an open wound.
What We Know About Monogamy
If you and your partner are both HIV-negative and dont have any sexually transmitted diseases , agreeing to be in a monogamous relationship can decrease your chances of getting HIV and other STDs. But monogamy works only if both partners are certain theyre HIV-negative and stay monogamous.
More Information If youre just beginning a monogamous relationship, its important for both of you to be tested for HIV.
If both you and your partner have HIV, agreeing to be in a monogamous relationship can decrease your chances of getting other STDs or transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative sex partner.
More Information You may not always know if your partner is having sex outside of the relationship or doing other things to increase the risk for getting HIV or other STDs. Having open and honest communication with your partner is important.
If youre in a monogamous relationship with someone who has a different HIV status than you, it is important that the partner with HIV take medicine to treat HIV as prescribed. If the partner with HIV takes their HIV medicine as prescribed and gets and keeps an undetectable viral load, there is effectively no risk of getting or transmitting HIV. If the partner with HIV has a detectable viral load, its important to know that the overall chance of getting or transmitting HIV increases the more times you have sex. Your risk for getting or transmitting HIV is also affected by whether you or your partner has another STD.
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How Can I Start Prep And How Long Do I Take It For
You must take an HIV test before starting PrEP to be sure that you dont already have HIV. If you have HIV already then taking PrEP may increase the likelihood of developing drug resistance which makes HIV treatment less effective.
While youre taking PrEP, you should visit your healthcare professional for regular check-ups .
Unlike HIV treatment, people do not stay on PrEP for life. PrEP is normally taken for periods of weeks, months or a few years when a person feels most at risk of HIV. This might be during specific relationships, after the break-up of a relationship and dating new people, when planning a holiday when you know you will be sexually active with new people whose status you may not know, while dealing with drug use problems, or when trying to conceive and one of you is known to be HIV positive.
How Do You Get Hiv From Sex
HIV is transmitted through semen , vaginal fluid, blood, and anal mucus. During sex without a condom the bodily fluids from one person can pass into the body of their sexual partner. This can happen through the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina and rectum, or sores in the mouth and throat.
You can only get HIV from someone who is living with HIV and has a detectable viral load.
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What You Can Do: Use A Condom The Right Way Every Time You Have Sex:
Use a condom the right way every time you have sex:
- Use a new condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex, and keep it on the entire time youre having sex. Theres little to no risk of getting HIV through oral sex. But you can make that risk even lower by using a condom during oral sex.
- Before you start having sex, put the condom on the tip of the hard penis with the rolled side out.
- Pinch the tip of the condom enough to leave a half-inch space for semen to collect. While holding the tip, unroll the condom all the way to the base of the hard penis.
- After ejaculation and before the penis gets soft, hold the bottom of the condom so it stays on and carefully pull out the penis. Then gently pull the condom off the penis, making sure that semen doesn’t spill out.
- Wrap the condom in a tissue and throw it in the trash where others won’t handle it.
- If you feel the condom break at any time during sex, stop immediately, pull out the penis, take off the broken condom, and put on a new condom.
- Use plenty of lubricant during vaginal and anal sex to help keep the condom from tearing. Dont use oil-based lubricants because they can weaken the condom and cause it to break.
Dont use natural membrane condoms for HIV or STD prevention. If you or your partner has a latex allergy, you can use male condoms made out of polyurethane or polyisoprene. Use water- or silicon-based lubricants to lower the chances that the condom will break or slip during sex.
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