How can I prevent getting HIV from sex?

Choose Sexual Activities With Little to No Risk

  • Choose sex that is less risky than anal or vaginal sex. There is little to no risk of getting HIV through oral sex.
  • You can’t get HIV from sexual activities that don’t involve contact with body fluids (semen, vaginal fluid, or blood).

Use Condoms the Right Way Every Time You Have Sex

  • Condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
  • Use water-based or silicone-based lubricants to help prevent condoms from breaking or slipping during sex.

Take PrEP

  • PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent HIV.
  • If taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex.
  • PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken as prescribed.

Decide Not to Have Sex

  • Not having sex (also known as being abstinent) is a 100% effective way to make sure you won’t get HIV through sex.
  • You can be abstinent at different times in your life for different reasons that may change over time.
  • Not having sex also prevents other STDs and pregnancy.

Get Tested and Treated for Other STDs

  • If you have another STD, you are more likely to get HIV. Getting tested and treated for other STDs can lower your chances of getting HIV.
  • Many people with an STD may not know they have one because they don’t have symptoms.

If Your Partner Has HIV, Encourage Your Partner to Get and Stay in Treatment

  • This is the most important thing your partner can do to stay healthy.
  • If your partner takes HIV medicine and gets and keeps an undetectable viral load, you will not get HIV from sex with your partner.

If I have HIV, what is the best way to protect others?

Get in care and take medicine to treat HIV.

  • HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood (called viral load). HIV medicine can make the viral load very low—so low that a test can’t detect it (called an undetectable viral load).
  • People with HIV who keep an undetectable viral load (or stay virally suppressed) can live long, healthy lives. Viral suppression is defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
  • If a person has an undetectable viral load, they will not transmit HIV to their partner through sex.
  • Having an undetectable viral load substantially reduces but does not eliminate the chance of HIV transmission to others through sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment, and to infants during pregnancy, birth, and breast/chestfeeding.
  • Most people can get the virus under control (undetectable) within six months of starting HIV medicine.
  • Taking ART does not prevent transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).