Sexual activity is the most likely way to become infected with HIV. People infected with HIV may not look sick. There is no way to tell if your partner has HIV without having been tested. Abstain from sex, or take precautions when engaging in intercourse or any other sexual act that results in an exchange of body fluids.
Suggestions to lower your risk include:
In addition, being circumcised may also reduce the risk of HIV.
Using a needle or syringe contaminated with HIV-infected blood can cause you to become infected. Do not share needles with anyone. Remember that people may not even be aware that they have HIV.
If you are at high risk, talk to your doctor about taking medication to reduce your risk of infection. You may be considered high risk if you:
Also, if you have a known exposure to HIV, medications may be given to decrease your risk of getting the infection.
HIV is transmitted through infected blood and body fluids. When caring for patients:
Blood products are screened for HIV, but there is still a small risk because tests cannot detect HIV immediately after transmission. To reduce your risk of contracting HIV through blood products, consider donating your own blood for elective surgical procedures.
To prevent spreading HIV to others if you are HIV-infected:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.
A guide to primary care of people with HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://hab.hrsa.gov/deliverhivaidscare/files/primary2004ed.pdf. Accessed May 15, 2013.
HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/HIVAIDS/Understanding/Pages/whatAreHIVAIDS.aspx. Accessed May 15, 2013.
HIV/AIDS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html. Accessed May 15, 2013.
HIV infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 7, 2013. Accessed May 15, 2013.
3/8/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Auvert B, Taljaard D, Lagarde E, et al. Randomized, controlled intervention trial of male circumcision for reduction of HIV infection risk: the ANRS 1265 Trial.
Bailey RC, Moses S, Parker CB, et al. Male circumcision for HIV prevention in young men in Kisumu, Kenya: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2007;369(9562):643-656.
Gray RH, Kigozi G, Serwadda D, et al. Male circumcision for HIV prevention in men in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised trial. Lancet. 2007;369(9562):657-666.
6/11/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Del Romero J, Castilla J, Hernando V, Rodrigues C, Garcia S. Combined antiretroviral treatment and heterosexual transmission of HIV-1: cross sectional and prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2010:;340:c2205.
6/24/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Update to interim guidance for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for the prevention of HIV infection: PrEP for injecting drug users. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;62(23):463.
Last reviewed September 2015 by David L. Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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