HIV and AIDS can make you very sick and even cause your death. If you follow the instructions in this video, you can reduce your risk of being infected with HIV, the cause of AIDS. This may save your life, the lives of any current or future sexual partners, and the lives of any children you may have.
AIDS is the final stage of infection by a virus called HIV. When a person becomes infected with HIV, HIV weakens the body's ability to fight disease. Initially, and sometimes for many years, the person may show no signs of being ill. A person can be infected with HIV and not even know it. When a person first becomes infected, HIV tests will not yet show that they are infected. Even before a person tests positive for HIV, it’s possible for them to infect others, and they are highly infectious during this time.
How does HIV spread? HIV is present in an infected person’s blood, an infected man’s ejaculation fluid called semen, an infected woman’s vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV typically spreads when one person’s body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk come in contact with an opening in another person’s body like the vagina, mouth, penis, anus, or breaks in the skin. There are three ways that HIV is commonly spread today.
The first way HIV spreads is sexual contact. The more sexual partners you have, the greater your risk of being infected with HIV.
The second way HIV spreads is sharing of needles by injection drug users.
The third way HIV spreads is mother-to-child transmission. If a pregnant woman has HIV, the unborn child may become infected. After birth, if the child breastfeeds, the child may be infected through breast milk.
What can you do to reduce your risk of being infected with HIV?
First, make sure that you know whether you are infected with HIV and whether your partner is infected with HIV.
Second, use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex, every way you have sex.
Third, if you have any other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia, get them treated, since they increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Fourth, if you are a sexually active, heterosexual man, consider being circumcised by a medical professional. Studies showed that medically performed circumcision with counseling reduces a man's risk of being infected with HIV through heterosexual sex by about half.
Fifth, if you had sex with someone you think is HIV positive or whose HIV status you’re unsure of, immediately contact a doctor and ask them if Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is right for you. In Post-Exposure Prophylaxis, you take HIV medication for a month after you think you may have been exposed to HIV. Typically, you must begin PEP treatment within 72 hours of when you were potentially exposed. After 72 hours, medications do not help decrease transmission.
Sixth, if you think you may be exposed to HIV through sex on an ongoing basis, ask your doctor if Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is right for you. PREP uses HIV medication to decrease the risk of becoming infected with HIV.
If you are getting married, get tested for HIV, have your partner get tested as well, and discuss your test results together.
If you are pregnant, get tested for HIV even if you feel sure you're not at risk. An HIV positive woman can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby by using HIV medications under a doctor’s direction.
After delivery, if a woman has reliable access to clean water and infant formula, she can further reduce the risk by feeding the child with formula instead of breastfeeding. But in the developing world, a doctor may recommend that an HIV positive woman who is on HIV medications breastfeed instead of using formula because for infants in the developing world, the benefits of breastfeeding can outweigh the risk. Getting tested for HIV and following your doctor's instructions if you're HIV positive can save your child's life.
If you are already HIV positive, what can you do to avoid transmitting HIV? Before you have sex, tell your partner that you are HIV positive so you can discuss together how to prevent transmission. Use a condom correctly every time you have sex, every way you have sex. The World Health Organization now recommends that all HIV positive people begin treatment with HIV medications as soon as possible after diagnosis. So take your HIV medications on schedule at the doses prescribed by your doctor.
No matter who you are, you are a valuable individual, and your life matters as do the lives of those around you. Take care of yourself and those around you. Make healthy choices that reduce your risk of being infected with HIV.