Prevention of HIV and AIDS
Learn how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) can be prevented.
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How can HIV and AIDS be prevented?
There is no vaccine to protect against HIV. You can develop AIDS only if you are infected with HIV.
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, treatment can prevent you from becoming infected with HIV. You should:
- see a health care provider immediately to find out if treatment is right for you
- start treatment within 72 hours of a possible exposure if your health care provider recommends treatment
All sexual contact has some risk. You can reduce getting and/or spreading HIV by practising safer sex. Safer sex, also known as safe sex, is more than just wearing the proper protection. It includes:
- getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- having an STI increases your risk of getting and/or spreading HIV
- discussing STI prevention with your sex partner(s)
- discussing with your partner(s) what sexual contact you will have
- using condoms and other barriers safely
- having fewer sex partners to reduce potential exposure to STIs
Learn more about how you can practise safer sex.
If you inject drugs, you can reduce the risk of getting and spreading HIV by following safe injection practices. These include:
- avoiding sharing drug injection paraphernalia, such as:
- using new paraphernalia every time you inject
You can also consider getting help by signing up for a substance use treatment program like methadone therapy. Such a program can help you reduce your:
- substance dependence
- risk of getting and spreading HIV and other STIs
Pregnancy and childbirth
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you and your partner should get tested for HIV and other STIs.
If you have HIV, you can prevent passing HIV to your baby by:
- taking antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy
- avoiding breastfeeding after you give birth
Acupuncture and other procedures
If you are getting a tattoo, body piercing, electrolysis or acupuncture, you can avoid getting and/or spreading HIV by ensuring:
- these procedures are carried out by professionals who follow universal precautions for controlling infection, like those used in hospitals
- all needles used, as required by law, are:
- used only once
- disposed of after use
If you are travelling to another country to get medical care, ensure:
- the blood and blood products used in the facility are screened for HIV
- the facility follows proper practices to control infection
If your job exposes you to contaminated blood or other bodily fluids, you may be at risk for HIV infection.
You can reduce your risk by following routine practices for controlling infection in your workplace.
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