The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that can attack the immune system and may cause a person to develop the condition known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if CD4 cells drop below 200 cells per cubic meter of blood. First discovered in the 1980s, HIV has had devastating effects on populations across the globe. Thanks to advancements in treatment and prevention, HIV is now better controlled and not as deadly as the virus once was. Even with the advancements in treatment, you should still take precautions to avoid getting the virus and passing it on to other people, and you can do a better job of protecting yourself by following these HIV prevention tips.
Use Protection During Sex
If you choose to have sex, you'll reduce your risk of contracting HIV if you use simple devices to protect yourself and your partner. Condoms have long been used for HIV prevention, and latex is often considered to be a reliable material choice because of its non-porous properties. Female condoms that are inserted into the vagina are also available. Latex or polyurethane dental dams can be useful for reducing HIV transmission during oral sex involving the vagina or anus.
Take an HIV Prevention Medication
By using an HIV prevention medicine, you may significantly reduce your chances of getting the virus. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is an HIV prevention pill that can be taken before sex to lower the chances of an HIV infection, but additional protection should still be used during sex to remain as safe as possible. If you believe that you were exposed to HIV, a post-exposure prophylaxis medicine, or PEP, can be taken shortly after the possible exposure to prevent an HIV infection.
Get Treated for Any Other STDs
If you contracted any other sexually transmitted diseases, you should have them treated before having any more sex to avoid spreading them to other partners or increasing your own risk of contracting HIV. Some STDs can cause changes in the vaginal, anal, and oral linings and leave you more vulnerable to an HIV infection. Some STDs can also leave open sores on the skin that may provide additional pathways for HIV to infect your body.
Don't Share Needles
HIV can also be transmitted through needle sharing and is a common problem among IV drug users. When a needle is inserted into a vein, the virus can get from the person's blood into the needle, syringe, or other preparation and injection supplies and transmitted to the next person who uses any of these items. All needles and related supplies should be discarded responsibly after a single use.
HIV prevention starts with you. If you want to avoid getting HIV, you have the power to prevent an HIV infection so that you can live a healthier life.
For more information, contact a local company, like CAN Community Health.