Creative Ways to Stop the Spread of HIV
20% of those infected with HIV don't know it and 33% are diagnosed late in their illness
As most of us know, there's no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS. But it's possible to protect yourself and others from infection by staying educated and informed.
AYCSite.com seeks to play a role in AIDS prevention by allowing members to educate themselves about their potential partner's connections in order to make more informed decisions before intimacy.
The Mayo Clinic also offers some excellent tips for AIDS prevention focused on educating yourself about HIV and avoiding any behavior that allows HIV-infected fluids — blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk — into your body.
Prevent the Spread of HIV
- Use a new condom every time you have sex. If you don't know the HIV status of your partner, use a new condom every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Male latex condoms are the most effective way to prevent HIV and other STIs. Because a man does not need to ejaculate to give or get some STIs, make sure to put the condom on before you begin any sexual activity.
- Women can use a female condom. Use only water-based lubricants. Oil-based lubricants can weaken condoms and cause them to break. During oral sex use a condom, dental dam — a piece of medical-grade latex — or plastic wrap.
- Get tested. Be sure you and your partner are tested for HIV and other STIs. Talk to each other about the test results before you have sex together for the first time. Having an STI increases your chances of becoming infected with HIV during sex.
- Be monogamous. Having sex with just one partner can lower your risk for HIV and other STIs. After being tested for STIs, be faithful to each other. That means that you have sex only with each other and no one else.
- Limit your number of sexual partners. Your risk of getting HIV and other STIs goes up with the number of partners you have.
- Use a clean needle. If you use a needle to inject drugs, make sure it's sterile and don't share it. Take advantage of needle-exchange programs in your community and consider seeking help for your drug use.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV. It's important to tell anyone with whom you've had sex that you're HIV-positive. Your partners need to be tested and to receive medical care if they have the virus. They also need to know their HIV status so that they don't infect others.
- If you're pregnant, get medical care right away. If you're HIV-positive, you may pass the infection to your baby. But if you receive treatment during pregnancy, you can lower your risk of delivering a baby with HIV to less than 1%.
- Don't douche. Douching removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protects you from infection. This may increase your risk of getting HIV and other STIs.
- Do not abuse alcohol or drugs. Alcohol or drug abuse may lead to risky behaviors such as sharing needles to inject drugs or not using a condom when you have sex.
These steps work best when used together. No single step can protect you from HIV or other types of sexually transmitted diseases.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: What Women Should Know
Women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy and birth, and through breastfeeding. However, in the last 20 years, the number of pregnant women in the United States getting tested for HIV and getting preventive treatment has gone up. Because of this, the percentage of babies born with HIV has decreased by more than 90%.
When HIV medicine is used consistently and correctly, a pregnant woman living with HIV who is treated for it early in her pregnancy can lower the risk of delivering a baby with HIV to less than 1%. Without treatment, this risk is about 25% in the United States.
Treatment, called antiretroviral therapy, works best when it is:
- Started as early as possible in pregnancy
- Also given during labor and delivery
- Given to the infant after birth
If you have HIV, do not breastfeed. 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.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at risk for HIV take daily medicine to prevent it. When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use.
If you take PrEP daily, the presence of the medicine in your bloodstream can often stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. If you don’t take PrEP every day, there may not be enough medicine in your bloodstream to block the virus.
Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily.
PrEP is for people without HIV who are at risk of getting the virus from sex or injection drug use. The CDC guidelines recommend that PrEP be considered for people who are HIV-negative that:
- Have had anal or vaginal sex in the past 6 months and:
- Have a sexual partner with HIV (especially if the partner has an unknown or detectable viral load)
- Or Have not consistently used a condom
- Or Have been diagnosed with an STD in the past 6 months.
- PrEP is also recommended for people who inject drugs and:
- have an injection partner with HIV
- Or share needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs (for example, cookers).
If you have a partner with HIV and are considering getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about PrEP if you’re not already taking it. PrEP may be an option to help protect you and your baby from getting HIV while you try to get pregnant, during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding.
Emergency HIV Prevention (PEP)
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is only for people who are at risk of getting HIV. But PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is an option for someone who thinks they’ve recently been exposed to HIV during sex or through injection drug use.
PEP means taking antiretroviral medicines after a potential exposure to HIV to prevent getting the virus. PEP must be started within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV. If you’re prescribed PEP, you’ll need to take it once or twice daily for 28 days. PEP is effective in preventing HIV when administered correctly, but not 100%.
Because PEP is given after a potential exposure to HIV, more drugs and higher doses are needed to block infection than with PrEP.
Your health care provider or an emergency room doctor can prescribe PEP. Talk to them right away if you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV.
Treatment as Prevention (TasP)
TasP refers to taking HIV medication to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV to an HIV-negative partner. TasP works when a person living with HIV takes HIV medication exactly as prescribed and has regular follow-up care.
This is a highly effective option for preventing HIV transmission. In fact, people living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
If you have HIV, it is important to start treatment with HIV medication (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) as soon as possible after your diagnosis.
When taken every day, exactly as prescribed, HIV medication can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood (also called the viral load) to a very low level. This is called viral suppression because HIV medication keeps the virus very low or “suppressed.” Viral suppression helps keep you healthy and prevents illness.
If your viral load is so low that it doesn’t show up in a standard lab test, this is called having an undetectable viral load. Almost everyone who takes HIV medication daily as prescribed can achieve an undetectable viral load, usually within six months after starting treatment.
Find the Right HIV Prevention for You
Just found out your partner has cheated? You’ll want to get tested for HIV as soon as possible. You may be able to take an emergency HIV medication like PEP. This antiretroviral medicine could prevent getting the virus if started within 72 hours of possible exposure to HIV.
Does your partner have HIV and you want to enjoy a healthy sex life without fear of getting it? PrEP might be right for you! If you take PrEP daily, the presence of the medicine in your bloodstream can often stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body.
Do you currently have HIV and want to keep a healthy lifestyle while also protecting your partner? There are preventive medications for you.
How can we stop the spread of HIV and AIDS? Stay informed. Get tested. Talk to your partner.
Source: Mayo Clinic
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