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HIV Prevention Measures To Reduce The Risk Of Infection

HIV Prevention Measures To Reduce The Risk Of Infection

HIV/AIDS is a spectrum of conditions induced by HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). So, HIV is a virus that can lead to AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), after it has attacked the body’s immune system, our natural defense against pathogens, infections, and illnesses. Through attacking and destroying CD4 white blood cells, also called the T-helper cells, which find and destroy bacteria, viruses, and other invading germs, your immune system loses its capacity to protect you. So, a lower amount of the CD4 cell indicates a weak immune system. This means that people infected with HIV will find it harder to fight off infections and diseases without a proper treatment. That’s why one should always be aware of HIV prevention methods, to help them live a healthy and a long life.

If HIV is left untreated, after 10 to 15 years the virus will damage severely the immune system, to a point it won’t be able to defend itself at all. This way, opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of your weak immune system and signal that you have AIDS. AIDS is the last stage and the most severe phase of HIV. However, the rate at which HIV progresses varies in people of different ages and their general health.

HIV prevention
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To know which are the best HIV prevention measures, one should understand ways through which HIV is spread:

How is HIV spread?

HIV prevention
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HIV is transmitted through certain body fluids from a person who has HIV, such as:



Vaginal fluids

Pre-seminal fluids

Rectal fluids

Breast milk


For HIV to be spread from one person to the other, the above-mentioned fluids have to be directly injected into the bloodstream using a needle or syringe, or be in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue. Mucous membranes are located inside the vagina, the opening of the penis, the rectum, and the mouth.


Ways through which body fluids can carry HIV from a person to another:

– Having vaginal or anal sex without using protection or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV

– Having sores, cuts or openings in your skin where body fluids can get into

– Sharing injection drug tools, such as needles, or syringes with an HIV-positive person

– Through blood transfusion or organ or tissue transplant

– From an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding. This type of transmission is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV.


It’s also important to know that you can’t get infected from a hug, handshake, a closed-mouth kiss, toilet seats, using the same utensils, etc. So, if body fluids are not involved in your contact with an HIV-positive person, there is nothing to worry about.


HIV prevention

HIV prevention
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1. Abstain

If you are not sure about your partner’s past sexual health history, or you don’t know whether you are infected or not, abstaining from sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid HIV infection.


2. Get tested

Before you have sexual intercourse, make sure to know your and your partner’s HIV status by taking an HIV test. To know more about HIV tests, read here.


3. Safe sex

Most sexual activity carries the risk of transmitting HIV. Therefore, use condoms during vaginal and anal intercourse, and dental dams during oral sex, so you can prevent blood and other sexual fluids to get into your body. Medicines are also an option to help you lower the risk of infection.


4. Limit your number of sexual partners

The higher the number of your partners, the higher the chance for infection with HIV or any other STD.


5. Get tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Make sure you or your partner gets tested and treated if infected with an STD. Being infected with one can increase the risk of transmitting HIV to others.


6. Avoid alcohol and drugs

Persons prone to consuming excessive alcohol or drugs are more likely to take sexual risks. Thus, they are more exposed to HIV and STDs. Also, using the same needles, syringes, or other equipment for drug, increases the risk of infection. So, make sure to use only sterile drug injection equipment and water and don’t share with others.


7. Get the proper prenatal care throughout your pregnancy

As we mentioned above, HIV can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy or birth. So, if you are pregnant and are HIV positive, get the proper prenatal care during your pregnancy and talk to your doctor to know if vaginal delivery is not a risky option for you.

Breast milk is also a fluid which contains HIV. Even though small amounts of it do not carry a high level of risk, HIV-positive mothers should talk to their doctor about spreading HIV to their baby via breast milk.

There are also reports of children who got infected with HIV by eating food that was previously chewed by an infected person. So, for your baby’s safety, do not give your baby pre-chewed food.


8. HIV prevention medicines

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) 

According to CDC, PrEP is an HIV prevention option for those who are not infected with HIV yet but are at substantial risk of becoming infected with HIV.

People infected with HIV should take the pill every day, as it has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 92%. If not taken consistently, the effectiveness won’t be the same.


Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)

Post-exposure prophylaxis is another HIV prevention option used soon after a person have possibly been exposed to HIV, e.g. after having unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, or even after a health care worker has accidentally been exposed to HIV in the workplace.

PEP must be taken within 72 hours after the possible exposure to HIV. If you’re prescribed PEP, you must take it once or twice each day for 28 days.


Prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV

PEP is also used as a HIV prevention method to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Infected women should take HIV medicines during pregnancy and labor to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their child. Their newborn babies also receive HIV medicine for 4 to 6 weeks after birth. This way, there is a lower chance of getting infected from any HIV that may have entered a baby’s body during birth.

HIV prevention
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Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.


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