While anyone may be at risk of HIV, there are several things you can do to limit that risk. HIV is widely preventable, and solutions exist to help you avoid unsafe behavior.
What steps can you take to make safe, educated decisions?
- Know your HIV status. This information can help you to make more informed choices about your behavior to prevent transmission of HIV to yourself or to your partner.
- Know the HIV status of your partner. If your partner does not know his or her HIV status, abstain from sex or use a condom. The safest way to prevent HIV is to abstain from sex outside of a committed, monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner.
- Avoid substance abuse. Heavy drinking, binge drinking, and drug use can all deteriorate your short-term and long-term decision making skills. Studies have shown that even as few as 1-2 alcoholic beverages can decrease your cognitive thinking, and lead you to make poor judgment calls, while the effects of drug abuse can have an influence on your ability to make sound decisions for years afterward.
- Use a condom. When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing the spread of HIV and other STD/STIs.
If you choose to drink or use drugs, there are additional steps to help lower your risk.
- Eat before you drink. This helps to slow the metabolization of alcohol in your system.
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with water. Your body can only metabolize one drink per hour, so drink accordingly.
- Do not share needles for any injection drug use, whether medical or recreational. Sharing needles has been shown to increase risk of HIV.