hiv prevention

The following information is provided directly from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Source: AIDSinfo,  U.S. Department of Health and Human 

How is HIV spread?

The person-to-person spread of HIV is called HIV transmission. HIV is transmitted (spread) only in certain body fluids from a person infected with HIV: 

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Pre-seminal fluids
  • Rectal fluids
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk

HIV transmission is only possible if these fluids come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or are directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe). Mucous membranes are found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth. 

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In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by:

  • Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV
  • Sharing injection drug equipment ("works"), such as needles, with someone who has HIV

HIV can also spread from an HIV-infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth (also called labor and delivery), or breastfeeding. This spread of HIV is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV. 

In the past, some people were infected with HIV after receiving a blood transfusion or organ or tissue transplant from an HIV-infected donor. Today, this risk is very low because donated blood, organs, and tissues are carefully tested in the United States. 

You can’t get HIV from casual contact with a person infected with HIV, for example from a handshake, a hug, or a closed-mouth kiss. And you can’t get HIV from contact with objects such as toilet seats, doorknobs, or dishes used by a person infected with HIV. Use the AIDSinfo You Can Safely Share…With Someone With HIV infographic to spread this message. 

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Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEP is for people who don’t have HIV but who are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV through sex or injection drug use. 

You may want to consider PrEP if you are not infected with HIV and you are in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner.

Other people who may want to consider PrEP include:

  • Gay or bisexual men who are not in a monogamous relationship with a recently tested, HIV-negative partner, who have either 1) had anal sex without a condom in the past 6 months, or 2) been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the past 6 months.
  • Heterosexual men or women who are not in a monogamous relationship with a recently tested, HIV-negative partner, and who do not always use condoms during sex with partners whose HIV status is unknown and who are at high risk of HIV infection (for example, people who inject drugs or have bisexual male partners).
  • People who, in the last 6 months, have injected drugs and have either 1) shared needles or injection equipment, or 2) been in a drug treatment program.

The above are some examples of people who may benefit from PrEP. If you think PrEP may be right for you, talk to your health care provider.

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Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

PEP might be prescribed for you if you are HIV negative or don’t know your HIV status, and in the last 72 hours you:

  • Think you were exposed to HIV during your work, for example from a needlestick injury 
  • Think you were exposed to HIV during sex
  • Shared needles or drug preparation equipment (“works”)
  • Were sexually assaulted

Your health care provider will help to determine whether you should receive PEP.

PEP is intended for emergency situations. It is not meant for regular use by people who may be exposed to HIV frequently.

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hiv and pregnancy

Most HIV medicines are safe to use during pregnancy. In general, HIV medicines don’t increase the risk of birth defects. Health care providers talk with HIV-infected women about the benefits and risks of specific HIV medicines to help the women decide which HIV medicines to use during pregnancy

Because of the use of HIV medicines and other strategies, the risk of mother-to-child transmission can be lowered to 1% or less.

The risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is low when:

HIV is detected as early as possible during pregnancy (or before a woman gets pregnant).

Women with HIV receive HIV medicine during pregnancy and childbirth and, in certain situations, have a scheduled cesarean delivery (sometimes called a C-section).

Babies born to women with HIV receive HIV medicines for 4 to 6 weeks after birth and are not breastfed.