- When used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV;
- There is still a chance of getting or transmitting HIV even with consistent and correct condom use, and therefore it is recommended that additional prevention measures be used as well;
- Male and female condoms are effective in preventing HIV, however they should never be used at the same time; and
- Condoms should never be reused.
Avoid risky behaviour (includes exposure to HIV-infected blood or bodily fluids):
- The only 100% way to prevent sexual HIV transmission is abstinence;
- Risky sexual behaviours for HIV transmission include:
- Not using condoms;
- Multiple concurrent partners;
- Transactional sex;
- Men who have sex with men;
- Intergenerational sex; and
- Violence against women.
- Risky non-sexual behaviours for HIV transmission include;
- Sharing needles for drug use (recreational or medical);
- Sharing toothbrushes;
- Sharing razor blades; and
- Unsafe handling of HIV-positive blood or bodily fluids.
Take Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP)
- PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people take an oral pill once a day before coming into contact with HIV. PrEP is made of two HIV medications that can prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV;
- PrEP must be taken for at least seven days to reach optimal levels of protection against HIV;
- When taken correctly, PrEP can lower the risk of getting HIV through sex by more than 90%.
- Only people who are HIV-negative should use PrEP. PrEP is NOT a cure for HIV;
- PrEP is intended for people who are at very high risk of contracting HIV, including:
- HIV-negative people who are in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner;
- HIV-negative people who engage in transactional sex (prostitution); and
- HIV-negative people who do not use condoms during sex with partners of unknown HIV status.
PMTCT (Pregnant women taking steps to prevent transmission to their babies)
- Pregnant women must know their HIV status if they want to prevent transmitting HIV to their infants;
- HIV-positive women can give birth to HIV-negative children if the proper steps are taken throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding;
- HIV-positive women should always deliver their babies in a hospital; and
- HIV-positive women need to take antiretroviral treatment (ART) faithfully throughout their pregnancy and breastfeeding, while infants born to HIV-positive women must receive medication for 4-6 weeks after birth and be tested for HIV.
If you’ve been exposed, take Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).
- PEP is an HIV prevention strategy in which HIV-negative people take anti-HIV medications after coming into contact with HIV. PEP usually involves taking a combination of three drugs over a four week period (28 days).
- PEP must be started as soon as possible after exposure (or risk of exposure) to HIV. The cut-off time to start PEP is 48-72 hours after HIV exposure;
- Only people who are HIV-negative should use PEP. PEP is NOT a cure for HIV; and
- PEP should only be used in emergency situations. It is not an ongoing prevention strategy.
Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC):
- Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) reduces men’s risk of HIV infection during vaginal sex (female-to-male transmission) significantly;
- VMMC does not prevent HIV transmission from an HIV-positive man to an HIV-negative woman;
- VMMC does not give any protection against pregnancy; and
- The term ‘voluntary medical male circumcision’ differentiates circumcision that is performed by a trained health professional from traditional circumcision, which is performed as part of a religious ritual or cultural rite of passage. Deciding to have a non-medical circumcision is a high risk decision which can itself end in transmission or other complications.