Protection against HIV

    • Brief

    • There are several ways to prevent contracting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). They include:

      • Condoms protect against HIV and lower the risk of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
      • Use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex.
      • Avoid getting blood or semen in your mouth during oral sex. Do not swallow them. This way, the risk of getting HIV is very low.
      • Only use your own injection equipment. Avoid sharing with other people.
      • More than 99% of all babies of mothers with HIV are born without HIV if the mother takes medicines during pregnancy.
      • Some people can take preventive HIV medicines if they are at a high risk of getting infected. This treatment is pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). For more information, speak to a healthcare provider at any family planning or sexual and reproductive health clinic.

      If you have HIV and you are not treated, you can infect other people, even if you feel fine. To prevent the spread of this disease, you should:

      • Use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex.
      • Avoid getting blood or semen in your mouth during oral sex.
      • Only use your injection equipment. Avoid sharing with other people.
      • Take medicines during your pregnancy when you are HIV-positive.

    • Preventive treatment with HIV medication: PrEP

    • PrEP is HIV medicine for preventing infection. PrEP does not replace condoms. The PrEP (truvada) pill only protects against HIV and does not protect against other STIs like gonorrhoea or syphilis. It provides extra protection for people who have a high chance of becoming infected with HIV.

      PrEP does not have any effect on your fertility. It is not a contraceptive, and so will not prevent pregnancy.

      PrEP is recommended for use among the following groups:

      • HIV negative people with HIV positive partners.
      • Commercial sex workers.
      • People who have anal sex regularly
      • Injection drug users.

      With PrEP, you have to take 1 pill every day at the same time.

      You should get tested every 3 months, and before you start PrEP, to make sure that you do not have HIV. Other tests to check your liver and to clear you of other diseases may be done before you start using this drug. You should stop this medication when you don't belong to the at-risk groups anymore.

    • Buying PrEP

    • You can only buy PrEP with a prescription from a healthcare provider. If you qualify for these drugs, you can contact any sexual health clinic near you for more information.

    • In case of emergency

    • If you have been exposed to HIV, you can take a medicine called ‘PEP’. Take the medicine as quickly as possible (no longer than 3 days after running the risk of infection). The sooner you start taking it, the higher the chance of not getting infected. Ask a healthcare provider for help on how to go about it.

    • No longer any risk of infection

    • If you take your HIV medicines correctly every day, the amount of HIV in your blood (viral load) gets lower. After a few months, the virus can often no longer be traced. However, the virus is still in your body. You will no longer be able to infect someone else with HIV.

      Under certain conditions, you can have sex without a condom with your steady sexual partner who does not have HIV if:

      • You take your HIV medicines correctly every day for at least 6 months
      • Your viral load can no longer be detected and your viral load was checked less than 6 months ago.
      • You and your partner have no other STIs and the mucous membrane of your mouth, anus, penis or vagina is not damaged.

      Talk to your healthcare provider and your partner first if you want to have sex without a condom.