Protect Your Sexual Health
There are things we can all do to protect our own sexual health, and there are many resources and health care providers available to help.
Protect yourself from HIV
- Get tested at least once or more often if you have had or frequently have condomless sex.
- Use condoms the right way every time you have anal or vaginal sex.
- Limit your number of sex partners.
- Don’t inject drugs, or if you do, don’t share needles or works.
- Ask your health care provider if pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is right for you.
- If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days, ask a health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) right away. PEP can prevent HIV, but it must be started within 72 hours.
- Get tested and treated for other STIs.
GET TESTED. Understanding your HIV status is the first step towards protecting your sexual health. Find a testing location near you.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is an HIV prevention method for individuals who are at a high risk of exposure, including those who engage in condomless sex or inject drugs. PrEP works by preventing the virus from establishing itself within the body if you take the medication as prescribed.
Get tested for HIV before starting PrEP
Take PrEP daily
Get tested for HIV every 3 months
1 in 6 have HIV but don’t know
1 in 4 new HIV infections is among youth
Be Prepared with PEP: Post-Exposure Prophylaxis
Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is an HIV prevention method which involves taking anti-HIV medications within 72 hours after you may have been exposed to HIV to try to reduce the chance of becoming HIV-positive.
Begin PEP within 72 hours of exposure
PEP involves taking 2-3 medicines for 28 days
PEP can be prescribed at ERs, urgent care, or clinics
PEP side effects make them hard to take
PEP is not 100% effective
(Source: Chase Brexton Health Care)
Get and Follow Your Treatment Plan
If you are HIV-positive, taking HIV medicines as prescribed is the best way to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load. Missing doses could increase your viral load and your risk of transmitting HIV. If you are having trouble taking your HIV medication as prescribed, work with your health care provider to improve your adherence. Other prevention strategies could provide additional protection until your viral load is confirmed to be undetectable. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)