The Bottom Line
If you’re having sex and you want to prevent HIV transmission, you need to use a condom or other barrier consistently—every time. HIV can be spread through vaginal, anal or oral sex. While mouth-to-genital contact is not as risky as intercourse, the possibility of HIV transmission is still there.
If you inject drugs, use new, sterile works. Clean needles are a must, and anything you use to inject that comes in contact with blood can also carry HIV. Using new needles and syringes for each injection significantly reduces the risk of HIV transmission. Check to see if there’s a needle exchange program near you. If you’re in the U.S., search here.
Condoms and How to Use them
Condoms are extremely effective in stopping the spread of HIV and reducing the transmission of many other sexually transmitted diseases. They’re also easy to use with a little practice. But not all methods or condoms are the same. Watch below to see how it’s done.
The Finer Points
So you’re practicing safer sex—you keep condoms stocked and you use them when you need them. What else can you do to reduce your risk, make good decisions and keep yourself healthy?
Spend some time focusing on yourself. How you feel will have a big effect on the choices you make. If you’re struggling with your self-esteem or mental health, or worried about negative patterns in your relationships, consider reaching out. Talk to a therapist or trusted friend, or join a support group.
Have sober sex
If you’re drinking or taking drugs, you are more apt to get into a situation where safer sex practices falter or fail altogether. If you have sex when you’re sober, you’re more likely to be safe.
Fewer partners, monogamy and abstinence
The fewer sex partners you have, the more you reduce your risk of HIV infection. When making choices about your sex life, consider your risk along with the other factors. Trust yourself and what you need.
The more you know about your body, your partner, safer sex and HIV, the better you can protect yourself against STDs. Keep educating yourself about HIV prevention. Talk to your healthcare provider or visit an HIV/AIDS organization for the latest information.