Anyone can be infected with HIV. Basic HIV and AIDS education is vital for preventing all forms oh HIV transmission. To prevent becoming infected by HIV, avoid behavior that might result in contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or body fluids with visible blood. Specifically, practice safer sex with your partner(s), and do NOT share equipment used to inject drugs.
The following prevention measures apply to personal sex practices and injection drug use:
- To prevent sexual transmission of HIV always practice safer sex.
- Always use a latex condom /dental dam during vaginal, oral and/or anal sex. If used properly, latex condoms /dental dams offer greater protection against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
- Use only water-based lubricants. Do not use saliva or oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly or vegetable shortening during vaginal or anal sex. Saliva or oil-based lubricants will damage a latex condom which could result in breakage of the condom during sex.
- Oral sex (mouth on genitals) is a low risk for HIV transmission. This does not mean no risk. You should be aware of any cuts or tears in either your or your partners mouth and genitals which may provide an entry point for HIV. Oral sex can be high risk for other STIs such as gonorrhea.
- If you inject drugs, do not share any injecting drug equipment such as needles or cookers.
- Do NOT share personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, and devices (sex toys) used during sex which may be contaminated with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
Sharing needles with someone who’s infected can inject the virus directly into your blood stream. If you do have to share a needle, and don’t want to get HIV in the process you can:
- Fill your syringe with bleach.
- Flush the bleach through the needle into a sink, toilet or container.
- Then do it a second time.
- Next fill your syringe with clean water. It is best if you can boil it, and then flush it out through the needle.
- Do this a second time also.
A WORD OF CAUTION: burning the end of a needle with a match will not work, neither will boiling your set in hot water. Also, it is not a good idea to buy needles on the street. You never know where they might have been. Find out about a needle exchange in your area.
Universal Body Fluid Precautions
The chances of becoming infected with HIV by handling a body fluid are extremely small, because that fluid will rarely have access to a person’s bloodstream. However, anyone handling blood, semen or vaginal fluids should be careful to avoid touching them with broken skin or getting them into mucous membranes (such as those around the eye). Spills of blood should be mopped up, cleaned with soap and water, then cleaned with bleach. For maximum safety, the person cleaning the spill should also wear latex gloves, and should wash their hands thoroughly after the cleanup.
There are established universal body fluid precautions which are designed to minimize the risk of HIV infection and other blood-borne illnesses such as hepatitis. The guidelines state that any instruments designed to penetrate the skin such as tattoo or acupuncture needles either should be used only once and discarded, or should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized after each use. If you are worried about occupational risk you should discuss infection control precautions with your employer.