Preventing HIV Transmission


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This article gives information about the different ways in which HIV can be prevented from passing from an HIV positive to an HIV negative individual. It does this by giving advice on methods to prevent or reduce infection in terms of sexual practices, risk reduction and hazard avoidance.

Sexual practices and HIV infection

The only guaranteed way to not catch a sexually transmitted HIV infection from a suffering partner is to abstain from sex. That said, using a latex condom or femidom can reduce the chances of infection to what some couples might consider to be acceptable levels. If either partner has a latex allergy then polyurethane based contraception is an acceptable alternative.

If having vaginal or anal sex a latex condom or femidom should be used. During anal sex this should be in conjunction with the liberal use of a water-based lubricant. This should help to prevent tearing of the condom during anal sex.

Oral sex can also pass on HIV to an uninfected partner. If the HIV positive partner is giving oral sex to the  other they may have sores or cuts in their mouth which can pass the infection on. If the infected partner is receiving oral sex, ejaculate or vaginal secretions can pass the disease on as well as contact with mucus membranes. The use of a latex condom will help to prevent infection in these cases.

If taking part in either cunnilingus or analingus the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a latex barrier, dental dam or condom which has been cut open to form a square. This should prevent bodily fluids and infection from being transferred between the two partners.

Sharing sex toys is also potential route for infection. If sharing with an infected partner put a condom on the sex toy if this is possible and change it when swapping. The sex toy should also be cleaned before each person uses it.

HIV from direct blood transfer

Injecting drug users can prevent infection from contaminated needles by using needle exchanges located across the country to source sterile needles. This will prevent the major risk of contracting HIV if sharing a needle with an infected person.

Haemophiliacs used to be at a major risk from contracting HIV due to the blood products that they required to manage their condition. This is no longer the case now that high quality screening methods are employed by governments to prevent HIV contamination of their blood products.

Health workers are the other group who may come into contact with the blood of an HIV positive person. If standard health and safety protocols are followed the risk of catching HIV from this is very low.

Pregnant or nursing

HIV testing is provided for pregnant women. If it is found that they are pregnant and have HIV there are combinations of drugs available to reduce the likelihood of infection during and after pregnancy. The baby may also be given a medication called AZT after birth to reduce its chances of catching the disease.


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