Protecting yourself from HIV is important! Here are the best ways you can reduce the risk of HIV-including PrEP, PEP, abstinence, Needle Exchange, limiting your number of sexual partners, choosing less risky sexual behaviors, using condoms every time you have sex, and getting tested for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
PrEP and PEP
If you are HIV negative, you can use HIV medications known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to protect yourself.
If you are living with HIV, the most important thing you can do to prevent transmission and stay healthy is to take your HIV medications (known as antiretroviral therapy or ART), the right way, every day. They can keep you healthy for many years and greatly reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to your partners. There are other options to choose from as well including, abstinence, choosing less risky sexual behaviors, using condoms every time you have sex, and getting tested for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill (brand name Truvada) contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) that are used in combination with other medicines to treat HIV. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection. When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when used alone. But people who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months.
What is PEP?
PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) means taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV during sex or through sharing needles and works to prepare drugs or if you’ve been sexually assaulted, talk to your health care provider or an emergency room doctor about PEP right away.
Abstinence is one of the best ways to keep from being infected through sexual contact. If a person is not sexually active there is no chance of contracting HIV or any sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Sharing Needles or Works
Sharing needles is an extremely high-risk factor for contracting or transmitting HIV. If an HIV-negative person uses needles, syringes or works (cookers, cotton or water) after an HIV-positive person, the risk of becoming HIV positive is very high. The needle or works may have blood in it that carries the HIV virus and can transmit HIV. It is important to use a clean needle every time drugs, hormones or steroids are injected.
People who inject drugs can get HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases because when people are high, they’re more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors and not practice sex safe.
Change Point is a program of Northern Nevada HOPES and is Nevada’s first legal syringe services program. Change Point provides syringe services, harm reduction supplies, counseling, and free HIV and hepatitis C testing. Change Point embraces diversity and advocates for medically underserved groups in the community.
Harm Reduction Center- Las Vegas is focused on ensuring the health of everyone in Southern Nevada. Trac-B Exchange is the storefront site committed to providing consulting to the community for infectious disease prevention and harm reduction surrounding syringe use and disposal. Our harm reduction program provides a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle.
When used the right way every time, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If condoms are paired with other option like PrEP or ART, they provide even more protection.
The Right Way to Use a Male Condom 1-English, 2-Spanish
The Right Way to Use a Female Condom 1-English, 2-Spanish
The Right Way to Use a Dental Dam 1-English, 2-Spanish
Content Source: HIV.gov & Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.