Saturday, June 15, 2024

How To Stay Safe From Hiv

How Do I Avoid Passing Hiv On To Someone Else

HIV: How to Protect Yourself and Others

If you are infected with HIV, the best way to prevent spreading HIV infection to others is to:

  • take your medication as prescribed there is a very low risk of passing on HIV if your own infection is under control
  • never share needles, syringes and other injecting equipment

If you have HIV infection, you are expected to notify anyone who is at risk of exposure from you:

  • Tell people you have had sex or taken drugs with . Your doctor can help you decide who may be at risk and help you to contact them either personally or anonymously.
  • Tell anyone you intend to have sex with about your HIV status . This is required by law in some states.

If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about starting antiretroviral treatment to prevent the infection passing to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Read more about HIV and pregnancy.

Hiv And Recreational Drugs: What Are The Risks

Recreational drugs can weaken the immune system, which is especially important for people with HIV to look after. Being high can affect judgement, so people might miss HIV medication doses. This can put their health at risk.

Some HIV drugs can react to recreational drugs and cause side effects, like feeling dizzy, which is important to speak to a doctor about.

What Are Some Behaviors That Can Raise A Woman’s Risk For Hiv

Behaviors that raise a womans risk for HIV include:

  • Having sex with a male partner who has had sex with another man or who has used intravenous drugs. Sex with a man is the most common way women are infected with HIV.
  • Using injection drugs and sharing needles. This is the second most common way that HIV is spread.
  • Abusing drugs and alcohol. This can lead to risky behavior, including having sex without a condom, not knowing a partners HIV status, or injecting drugs.

Women who drink alcohol or use drugs may also be at higher risk of sexual assault or rape, which may put you at risk for HIV. If you are assaulted or raped, you need to see a doctor right away. Your doctor may decide that you should get post-exposure prophylaxis . These drugs may lower your chances of getting HIV after you have been exposed to the virus. But these drugs work only if you see a doctor within three days of exposure.

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Keep An Eye On Your Skin And Take Any Changes Seriously

A severe skin infection that doesnt clear up or respond to treatment can sometimes be a sign of something serious. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, people with weakened immune systems because of HIV often have simultaneous or persistent skin conditions either because theyre more susceptible to certain infections or because of inflammation. Rashes are among the most common side effects of HIV medications, says the HHS. So watch your skin carefully for changes, and be sure to have skin problems examined promptly.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv Infection

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Most people have no symptoms or just a mild flu-like illness when they are first infected, and it may be difficult to tell the HIV apart from other viral infections. This illness, called seroconversion illness, often occurs around 10 to 14 days after infection.

Seroconversion illness can have a range of symptoms, including:

After the initial illness, people with HIV infection usually have no other symptoms. However, the virus remains in the body.

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How Is Hiv Treated

There is no vaccine or cure for HIV infection. However, there are effective treatments that can prevent the transmission of HIV and the progression to AIDS, and help ensure a near-normal life expectancy.

These treatments are known as antiretroviral therapy . They stop the virus from reproducing itself, which leads to a lower viral load. The treatment involves a combination of drugs used together.

HIV-positive people who take ART daily exactly as prescribed and achieve an undetectable viral load cant sexually transmit the virus to an HIV-negative partner.

Thanks to the improvements in treatment, HIV infection is now a manageable chronic disease for many people in countries like Australia.

Theoretical And Empirical Basis For Protection

Condoms can be expected to provide different levels of protection for various STIs, depending on differences in how the diseases or infections are transmitted. Male condoms may not cover all infected areas or areas that could become infected. Thus, they are likely to provide greater protection against STIs that are transmitted only by genital fluids than against infections that are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact, which may or may not infect areas covered by a condom .

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Can I Take Medicine To Prevent Getting Or Passing Hiv

Yes. Several medicines are available to help lower your risk of getting or passing HIV:

Pre-exposure prophylaxis

PrEP is an HIV prevention method for people who do not have HIV infection but who may be at high risk. PrEP is a pill you take by mouth every day.

Talk to your doctor about PrEP if:

  • You are HIV-negative but your partner is HIV-positive
  • You are not in a monogamous relationship and you do not always use condoms
  • You inject illegal drugs or share needles
  • You have a partner who is HIV-positive, and you want to get pregnant. PrEP may help protect you and your baby.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that PrEP could prevent transmission in as many as 140,000 serodiscordant heterosexual couples.4Learn more about PrEP.

Post-exposure prophylaxis

PEP is an anti-HIV medicine for people who may have been very recently exposed to HIV.5 If you think you have been exposed , or if you were sexually assaulted, talk to your doctor or nurse about taking PEP.

You must take PEP within three days of exposure to help lower your risk for HIV. You then take two to three antiretroviral medicines for 28 days to prevent the virus from copying itself and spreading through your body.

While taking PEP, you still need to take steps to prevent HIV, including using a condom with sex partners. Learn more about PEP.

Antiretroviral medicines

What Unique Challenges Do Women Face In Preventing Hiv

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some prevention challenges are unique to women:2

  • Women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy and birth and through breastfeeding.
  • A woman’s anatomy makes it easier to get HIV through sex compared with a man’s anatomy.
  • Having a sexually transmitted infection raises a woman’s risk for HIV more than a man’s.
  • Women are more likely to lack control in relationships and fear violence, stigma, or abandonment when trying to prevent HIV exposure.
  • Women are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. People with a history of sexual abuse are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors like exchanging sex for drugs, having multiple partners, or having sex with a partner who is physically abusive when asked to use a condom.

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When To Get Tested

It is important to get tested for HIV if you suspect you have been exposed to it or if you engage in behaviors that put you at a high chance of contracting the virus.

You can get free HIV tests if you are insured, or you can seek out a local clinic that provides free or low-cost testing to anyone uninsured.

Knowing your HIV status is important for several reasons. If your HIV test result is positive, it can be useful because you can:

  • begin treatment right away

What Can Women Do

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:

  • Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Learn the right way to use a male condom or a female condom.
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Never share needles.
  • Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis , taking medicine daily to prevent HIV infection, if you are at very high risk for HIV.
  • Talk to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis if you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days through sex, sharing needles and works, or a sexual assault.

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What Should People Know About Taking Hiv Medicines

Taking HIV medicines keeps people with HIV healthy and prevents HIV transmission. Taking HIV medicines every day and exactly as prescribed also reduces the risk of drug resistance.

But sometimes, HIV medicines can cause side effects. Most side effects from HIV medicines are manageable, but a few can be serious. Overall, the benefits of HIV medicines far outweigh the risk of side effects. In addition, newer HIV medicines cause fewer side effects than medicines used in the past. As HIV treatment continues to improve, people are less likely to have side effects from their HIV medicines.

HIV medicines can interact with other HIV medicines in an HIV treatment regimen or with other medicines a person is taking. Health care providers carefully consider potential drug interactions before recommending an HIV treatment regimen.

Stay Away From Illegal Drugs

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Youâre at high risk for HIV if you share needles or syringes with others. The safest thing to do is to not share needles. Use only new, sterile needles. Some drugstores even sell them without a prescription. If you canât get fresh needles, you can clean used needles with bleach, but you still have a chance of getting HIV from them. Though injected illegal drugs are the most dangerous, any type of recreational drug use can raise your risk. This is because they lower your inhibitions and make it more likely youâll have unprotected sex. This raises your chances of getting HIV. If you do use drugs, always carry condoms.

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How Can I Prevent Hiv If I Get Tattoos Or Body Piercings

Follow these steps to lower your risk of getting HIV:

  • Ask questions about how the staff sterilizes their equipment. Single-use instruments that cut the skin should be used once and then thrown away. Reusable instruments that cut the skin should be cleaned and sterilized between uses.
  • Find out what steps the staff takes to prevent HIV and other infections, like hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
  • Make sure your tattoo parlor follows state regulations and health inspections.

Food Safety For People Living With Hiv

Because people living with HIV may be at greater risk for food-borne illness, they should protect themselves by following these tips:

  • Dont eat raw eggs, raw meats, or raw seafood
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them
  • When cutting up raw meats to cook, use a separate surface
  • Put leftover cooked foods into the refrigerator right away after eating meals
  • Always wash your hands and cooking tools with soap
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods you shouldnt eat with the medication youre taking

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Never Share Needles Syringes Or Other Drug Injection Equipment

  • Use new, clean syringes and injection equipment every time you inject.
  • Many communities have syringe services programs where you can get new needles and syringes and safely dispose of used ones. SSPs can also link you to substance use disorder treatment, testing, and care and treatment for infectious diseases.
  • Some pharmacies sell needles without a prescription.

How can I protect my baby?

Get A Prescription For Prep

What it means to have HIV

Short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, PrEP is a daily pill that can reduce a persons risk of contracting HIV by about 99 percent when taken daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . If you regularly have sex with someone who is HIV positive, have sex without using condoms, or share needles with others, PrEP can be a powerful tool for preventing the spread of HIV.

If you believe you were exposed to HIV during sex for example, if a sexual partner was recently diagnosed with HIV you can take emergency pills called PEP, or postexposure prophylaxis. A 28-day course of medication, PEP needs to be taken within three days after a potential infection to help block the virus from taking root in your body.

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Get Tested For Hiv Regularly

If youre currently HIV negative, its important to be tested for any change in your status. If a test shows youve contracted the virus, your risk of spreading it to someone else is greatest in the acute phase, or the first two to four weeks after being infected. During that period, the viral load spikes, increasing the likelihood youll transmit the virus. Although some people experience flu-like symptoms in the acute phase, many are not aware that they are infected because they dont feel sick at all or might not feel sick until later, according to the CDC.

Protect Yourself With Prep

You may be in a situation that makes you more likely to get HIV. You may share needles, or youâre in a relationship with someone whoâs HIV-positive. If your partner takes HIV medication and has undetectable virus, they are unlikely to give it to you. But you may be at risk if they donât take their medication consistently or donât know what their viral load is.

You can protect yourself by taking a daily pill to help avoid infection. Itâs called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. There are a few options. The pill, Truvada contains two drugs, emtricitabine and tenofovir. These are antiretrovirals, which means they donât allow the virus to take hold and spread through your body.

If you have unprotected sex with someone whoâs HIV positive, your chance of getting HIV drops by about 99% if you take PrEP daily. It doesnât work as well if you inject drugs, but it still lowers your chances by at least 74%. For it to work this well, you need to take it every day.

A similar drug, Descovy, is approved for PrEP, but itâs not recommended for women having receptive vaginal sex.

The medication cabotegravir are more recent approvals. Vocabria is also taken in pill form. Apretude is is given first as two initiation injections administered one month apart, and then every two months thereafter. It has proven to be 90% effective.

Show Sources

Kaiser Family Foundation: “National Survey of Young Adults on HIV/AIDS.” âPre-Exposure Prophylaxis.â

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How Can I Make Sure I Dont Give Hiv To Anyone During Sex

If you find out that you have HIV, try to stay calm. People living with HIV can have normal, healthy relationships and sex lives. But its important to take precautions to help your partner stay HIV-free.

There are a few ways that you can avoid giving HIV to other people:

  • Start treatment for HIV as soon as possible, and keep taking your HIV medicine. When you take it correctly, HIV treatment can lower or even stop your chances of spreading the virus to your sexual partners .

  • Theres a daily pill your partner can take to lower the risk of getting HIV, called PrEP.

  • Dont share needles for shooting drugs, piercings, or tattoos.

  • Get tested and treated for other STDs besides HIV regularly. Having other STDs makes it easier for you to spread HIV to others.

If you test positive for HIV, its important to tell your sexual partners about it so they can be tested, too. Even if youre really careful to not spread HIV, be honest with your future partners about your status so you can both be informed and help each other stay healthy. Read more about talking with your partners about HIV.

When Is It Time To Start Taking Hiv Medicines

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People with HIV should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible after an HIV diagnosis. It is especially important for people with AIDS-defining conditions or early HIV infection to start HIV medicines right away.

Women with HIV who become pregnant and are not already taking HIV medicines should also start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible.

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I Have Hiv Can I Breastfeed My Baby

No. If you have HIV, do not breastfeed. In the United states and other countries where clean water is available, using a breastmilk substitute like formula is strongly recommended for women with HIV, because you can pass the virus to your baby through breastmilk.

You can also ask your doctor, midwife, or pediatrician about getting human breastmilk from a milk bank. Find a human milk bank through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

Recommendations about breastfeeding with HIV may be different for other countries where clean water is not always available.

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