Today, more tools than ever are available to prevent HIV. In addition to limiting your number of sexual partners, never sharing needles, and using condoms correctly and consistently, you may be able to take advantage of newer biomedical options such as pre-exposure and post-exposure prevention.
People who are at the highest risk for exposure to HIV are:
Choose less risky sexual behaviors, limit your number of sex partners, use condoms, use medicines to prevent HIV if appropriate, and get checked for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The more of these actions you take, the safer you can be.
Specifically, you can:
If your partner is HIV-positive, encourage your partner to get and stay on treatment. ART reduces the amount of HIV virus (viral load) in blood and body fluids. ART can keep people with HIV healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners if taken consistently and correctly.
When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection.
This means using a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are also effective at preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) transmitted through body fluids, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. However, they provide less protection against STDs spread through skin-to-skin contact like human papillomavirus (genital warts), genital herpes, and syphilis.
There are two types of condoms: male and female.
Although highly effective when used consistently and correctly, there is still a chance of getting HIV if you only use condoms, so adding other prevention methods can further reduce your risk.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends taking medication before exposure (called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP) for people who are HIV-negative and at substantial risk for HIV. Currently, only one drug, Truvada, is approved for this use.
If you are taking PrEP, you should not stop using condoms. If PrEP is taken daily, it offers a lot of protection against HIV infection, but not 100%. Condoms also offer a lot of protection against HIV infection if they are used correctly every time you have sex, but not 100%. PrEP medicines don’t give you any protection from other infections you can get during sex (like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis), but condoms do.
So you will get the most protection from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases if you consistently take PrEP medicine and consistently use condoms during sex.
For more information, see the Truvada DrugFactBox.