AIDS and the HIV infection does not discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, race, socio-economic class, etc. Many men and women who are HIV positive do not realize they are carrying the virus because it is not unusual for individuals to remain symptom free for many years. However, people who have the HIV infection can transmit the virus to others even if they have no symptoms. HIV can be transmitted by semen, blood, blood products, and vaginal and cervical secretions. Theoretically, the virus is contained in other body fluids, however, whether or not it is present in sufficient amount to transmit the infection is unclear. You can reduce your risks of being infected by HIV if you:
- Make well informed and safe choices about sexual activity. If you do not have vaginal, anal, or oral sexual intercourse, you will be providing yourself with excellent protection against the sexual transmission of HIV.
- Always use safe sex practices if you are engaging in sexual activity involving intercourse and take precautions with every partner. Communicate assertively with your sexual partner and always use latex condoms when engaging in intercourse.Spermicides containing nonoxynal-9 may increase the protection provided by a condom. Latex squares or dental dams are rubber devices that may be used during oral intercourse. The level of protection this practice provides in not known, but it is logical to assume that this may reduce the risk of acquiring HIV if they are used properly and consistently.
- Separate alcohol and drug use from sexual activity. Having sex when you are drunk or drugged, often results in not practicing safe sex. Alcohol and drugs impair cognitive function, making adequate decision making more difficult. They also make communicating more difficult.
- Never share needles or engage in any other activity which may result in exposure to blood. See link for information on blood precautions.
- Remember your behavior determines your risk for acquiring HIV. If you do not engage in risky behavior, you greatly reduce your risk of infection.
Studies and guidelines from the Center of Disease Control and the Public Health Service indicate that individuals with the HIV infection or AIDS do not pose a health risk to others through casual contact.