• How Can I Prevent HIV Transmission?

Not having (abstinence) sex is the most effective way to avoid transmitting HIV. Having sex with one person who only has sex with you (mutual monogamy) and who is uninfected also is effective. If you choose to be sexually active, use condoms each and every time you have sex. When used consistently and correctly latex condoms are considered highly effective, though not 100%, in preventing the spread of HIV and protecting against other STDs. If you or your partner(s) are allergic to latex, plastic (polyurethane) condoms (male or female) can be used.

It is important to know your own – and your partner’s – HIV status. By knowing if you have HIV or another STD, you can take precautions to protect your own health and your partner’s. Get tested regularly, especially before starting a new relationship.

When performing oral sex on a man (fellatio), the use of latex condoms, withdrawal before ejaculation without a condom (avoiding semen in the mouth) and/or refraining from this activity when cuts or sores are present in the mouth can reduce the risk of transmission.

When performing oral sex on a woman (cunnilingus), moisture barriers such as a dental dam (sheet of latex), a cut-open and flattened condom or household plastic wrap can reduce the risk of exposure to vaginal secretions and/or blood.

Avoid using needles or drug works (commonly called paraphernalia). If you do use them, make sure they are new and sterile (along with sterile water, new containers and new filters), do not share them with other people and safely dispose of them after one use. Only use syringes obtained from reliable sources, such as pharmacies or needle exchange programs and clean the injection site with a new alcohol swab before injection. If new, sterile syringes and equipment are not available, then previously-used equipment should be boiled in water or disinfected with bleach before reuse.

• What Is Safe Sex?

Safe sex refers to sexual activities that do not involve any sexual fluid from one person getting into another person’s body. If two people are having safe sex, even if one person is infected there is no possibility of the other person becoming infected. Safe sex activities include hugging, touching, caressing and mutual masturbation.

• What Is Safer Sex?

Safer sex refers to a range of sexual activities that hold little risk of HIV infection or other STDs. If you are not in a mutually-monogamous relationship (sex with only you and your partner) and you and your partner are negative, safer sex can include properly using a barrier (latex condom or dental dam) each time you have sex, from start to finish. Condoms are the only method that provides protection against HIV, other STDs and unintended pregnancy. The best way to prevent HIV and other STDs is to abstain from sex.