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What are some ways to prevent HIV?

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Quick Answer

People can help prevent contracting human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, by engaging in less risky sexual behavior, using condoms, abstaining from intravenous drug use and limiting their number of sexual partners, according to AIDSinfo. People at high risk can also take medications every day in an attempt to prevent HIV.

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People should use condoms properly every time they engage in oral, vaginal or anal sex to reduce the risk of contracting HIV, advises AIDSinfo. Oral sex is less likely to lead to the spread of HIV than vaginal or anal sex, which presents the highest risk. To reduce the chances of contracting HIV, individuals should also avoid using needles to inject drugs, or if necessary, they should ensure that needles have been properly sterilized. People should also get tested and treated for other sexually transmitted diseases because they can increase an individual's susceptibility to contracting HIV. Individuals should talk to their partners about previous and ongoing sexual activity, and both partners should seek out testing for HIV on a regular basis.

People can also ask their doctors for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, regimens that involve taking HIV medications every day to prevent HIV, advises AIDSinfo. People should not substitute PrEP for other HIV prevention methods. Instead, they should take HIV medications along with other precautions. Post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is the use of preventive medication following possible exposure to HIV. Pregnant woman can take HIV medications to try to prevent their child from being born with the illness.

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