How to Protect Yourself From HIV/AIDS. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS. AIDS attacks the body's immune system, making the body vulnerable to many illnesses. HIV is spread when the blood, urine, feces or semen of an infected person enters an uninfected person's blood stream through cuts, scrapes, punctures, abrasions or tiny breaks in the skin. Read on to learn how to protect yourself from HIV/AIDS.
Things You'll Need
- Medical latex or non-latex gloves
- Fresh needles or syringes
- Dental dams
Avoid stereotypes. Anyone can be infected with HIV/AIDS, from the out-and-proud guy across the street to the girl next door.
Get tested. It is important to know your own HIV status.
Talk to new sexual partners honestly about your risk factors and request the same frank disclosure from them. Risk factors include sharing needles during IV drug use, having unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status was unknown or unclear and having another sexually transmitted disease.
Remember that many people who are infected don't realize they are infected. They may not even realize they are at risk. When you come into contact with another person's blood, urine, feces or semen, assume they are infectious unless proven otherwise.
Practice safe sex. This means using a condom with spermicide for anal, vaginal or oral penetration. Lesbians may wish to use a dental dam, a thin latex square, for oral sex.
Use medical latex or non-latex gloves if you will be coming into contact with another person's blood, urine, feces or semen. Health care workers consider this a "universal precaution" which means they wear protective equipment regardless of the client's HIV/AIDS status.
Avoid sharing needles if you use IV or injection drugs. Some cities have needle exchange programs and some states allow pharmacies to sell certain types of syringes without a prescription.
Keep in mind that abstinence from sexual activity outside of a committed monogamous relationship is one of the best ways to protect yourself from HIV/AIDS.
Learn more about how to protect yourself from HIV/AIDS. The American Red Cross offers several excellent community programs as well as publications to help keep both youths and adults safe. See the Resources section below for a link.