How can I keep from getting HIV?

The best way to protect yourself is to avoid activities that put you at risk. There's no way to tell by looking at someone if he or she has HIV. Always protect yourself.

  • Use latex condoms (rubbers) whenever you have any type of sex (vaginal, anal or oral).
  • Don't use condoms made from animal products.
  • Use water-based lubricants (lotion).
  • Never share needles to take drugs.
  • Avoid getting drunk or high. People who are drunk or high might be less likely to protect themselves.

It's important to use a condom correctly to protect yourself against HIV. Follow these tips:

  • Use a condom during any sex act that involves the penis.
  • Put the condom on after the penis is erect (hard).
  • Place the condom on the tip of the penis and roll it down.
  • Squeeze the tip of the condom as you roll it on to release any trapped air.
  • Leave a little room at the tip of the penis where semen can collect.
  • Leave the condom on until you are done with all sex acts.
  • Remove the condom while the penis is still erect (hard).
  • Always throw out used condoms.
  • Don't use condoms that are hard, broken, or look the wrong color.
  • If you use a lubricant (lotion), make sure that it is water-based. Do not use Vaseline®, petroleum jelly, or lubricants made with mineral or vegetable oil (oil can cause damage to the condom).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/14/2015.


  • US Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 5/4/2015.
  • Accessed 5/4/2015.
  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. HIV/AIDS Accessed 5/4/2015.
  • Katz MH, Zolopa AR. HIV Infection & AIDS. In: Papadakis MA, McPhee SJ, Rabow MW. eds. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2014. Accessed May 04, 2015.

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