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. Intoxicated people might be less likely to protect themselves.
  • Consider getting tested—it is really important to be aware of your HIV status.

If you are a healthcare worker, you are at a slightly higher risk of getting HIV from a needle-stick injury, skin contact with contaminated fluid or from human bites. You should follow universal precautions:

  • Always wear protective equipment when dealing with blood and body fluids.
  • Follow careful hand-washing guidelines when dealing with such fluids.
  • Follow safe handling guidelines for needles and sharp instruments.
  • Be aware of post-exposure policies at your workplace.

If you are in a relationship with a partner who has HIV, or you are at high risk for any other reason, consider using pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly called PrEP. This means taking one of two medicines every day, emtricitabine-tenofovir (TDF, Truvada®) or emtricitabine-tenofovir alafen (Descovy®).

If you are a person with HIV who is in a relationship with a person who is HIV-negative, you should also be on a medication regimen.

It's important to use a condom correctly to protect yourself against HIV. Use a male condom for any sex act that involves the penis.

You can also protect the vagina or anus with dental dams or internal condoms. Dental dams are flat pieces of polyurethane or latex that you can put over the vagina or anus if you are having oral sex. An internal condom (also called female condom) can be used by insertion into the vagina or anus. You should only use one type of condom at a time. Do not use both a male condom and internal condom.

If you are pregnant and have HIV, you can take medicine that will reduce the risk of passing the virus to your child.

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