How can you protect yourself from HIV and STDs??
- Abstinence: Chose not to have sex. This is the only 100% effective way not to get HIV or an STD.
- Condoms: Use a condom EVERY time you have sex. There are many types of condoms; including male or female condoms, condoms made with either latex or polyurethane, and different sizes, and textures; make sure to find the condom for you! This will decrease your risk of getting HIV and STDs. You can get FREE condoms at your local family planning or public health nursing clinics!
- Other Barrier Methods: Protect yourself by using dental dams (latex sheath) for oral sex with a female or finger cots for finger play.
- Do Not Share Needles/Clean Your Works: Always use new, unused needles or clean your works by flushing the needle and plunger with water and bleach each time you use an intravenous drug syringe. Do not share other IV drug paraphernalia such as cookers cottons/filters, or water glasses.
- Sober Sex: When you are drinking or using drugs, you are more likely to make decisions that could lead to situations that can put you at risk for unsafe sexual practices. Having sex when you are sober can make you more likely to practice safe sex.
- Fewer Partners/Monogamy: The fewer sex partners you have, the more you reduce your risk of HIV/STD infection.
- PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who are HIV negative but have a significant risk of being exposed to the virus to prevent HIV infection by taking a medication every day. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can help prevent the virus from causing infection. When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92%. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and can be combined with condoms and other prevention methods to provide even greater protection than when any of them are used alone. People who use PrEP must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up every 3 months.
- Getting Tested: The only way to be sure of your HIV and STD status is to get tested.
- Know Your Partner’s HIV /STD Status: Ask your partner when the last time they were tested for HIV and STDs. Going to the clinic together for both of you to get tested is a good way to break the ice, and protect yourself and them!