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How is the risk of HIV reduced?

Abstinence is the only way to be sure to prevent HIV infection.

Abstinence is refraining from vaginal, anal, or oral sex and avoiding drug and alcohol usage. Drugs and alcohol are included with abstinence for two reasons.

  1. Injecting drugs and sharing needles is a primary route of HIV transmission by infected blood.
  2. When a person is “high” or intoxicated he/she may engage in vaginal, anal or oral sexual activities that may put them at risk for HIV infection.

For those that choose not to abstain, there are several ways to reduce the risk of HIV infection. Some options are to:

  • limit your number of sexual partners. Having fewer partners means fewer possible exposures.
  • never share needles. This includes any use of needles that comes in contact with blood, such as those used while injecting illegal drugs or prescribed medication, tattooing, or body piercing. If you are about to receive a tattoo or body piercing, make sure that new sterile needles are being used.
  • use condoms correctly and consistently. For more detailed information about how to use condoms correctly, here are a few videos.

For even more ways to reduce your risk, please click here.

For those that may be exposed to body fluids containing HIV, such as health care workers, universal precautions reduce the risk of transmission.

Universal precautions refer to the activities that avoid contact with blood or bodily fluids containing blood.
Universal precautions include:

  • Wearing latex or nitrile gloves when coming into contact with blood, skin and mucous membrane cuts, or any open skin lesion.
  • Using gloves only for the care of one person, and then discarding the gloves.
  • Washing hands after discarding the gloves.
  • Properly disposing of contaminated materials exposed to blood, such as needles.

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