Staying HIV Free
- Rock a rubber johnny – No glove, no love. Don’t be silly, wrap yo’ willy. Don’t be a fool, wrap your tool. If there’s gonna be affection, cover your erection. The point’s been made: don’t be dumb, wear a freaking condom—it’s the cheapest insurance policy ever.
- Get tested – Even if unprotected sex only happened once or the tattoo parlor in Cancun wasn't that shady, get tested. It’s easy to locate a testing center, or do it at home with Home Access. For accurate results, wait three months after your last "session" to test.
- Postpone the big moan – While abstinence can be extremely difficult (especially if Tag Body Spray is involved), waiting until both partners have been tested before doing the deed is a smart move.
- Treat other STDs – Studies indicate that having another STD (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea or Herpes) increases the chances of contracting HIV. Check other STD symptoms at CDC.gov and don’t hesitate to see a doctor if there are signs.
- I’m no superman – Invincibility is reserved for comic book heroes and Clint Eastwood. HIV does not discriminate between race, class or shoe size—don’t be naïve.
Sure, Kanye said that you can live through anything if Magic made it, but that's no excuse to take unnecessary risks. Though Generation Y has been taught about HIV since grade school, 20-29 year olds accounted for nearly a quarter of HIV cases
diagnosed in 2005. Since it seems people were busy passing notes instead of taking them, we’ve outlined the pertinent information below.
HIV is spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, and breast milk. It can’t be passed through contact with saliva, tears, sweat, urine, or feces or transmitted via insects.
There are three major routes of transmission:
- Unprotected Sex – HIV can be contracted if contact is made with the genital, rectal, or oral mucous membranes of an infected individual. Infected fluid can enter the urethra or pass into the bloodstream through a cut or sore inside the body, on the man’s penis, or in the mouth. Anal sex is the riskiest proposition because the chance of tearing and bleeding is highest, but that doesn't mean that everything else is all gravy.
- Blood or Blood Product – Intravenous drug users that share needles are at high risk for transmission. Those who undergo tattoo, piercing, or scarification techniques may also be at risk. So, if a nipple ring is a dire necessity, make sure to get it done in a safe and sterile environment.
- Mother to Child – HIV can be passed in utero or through breast milk. Antiretroviral drugs along with Cesarean delivery can reduce the chance of transmission from 25 percent to 1 percent.
For more information on HIV transmission, click here .
It may be hard to call a "timeout" in the throws of passion, but doing so could be a matter of life and death. Follow the rules of prevention below to avoid becoming a scary statistic.
- Abstinence – Enough said.
- Meet the Trojan Man – Though putting on a condom may kill the heat of the moment, HIV will kill the immune system. Proper and consistent use of latex or polyurethane condoms during vaginal, anal, and oral sex will greatly reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Avoid lambskin jimmy hats as they do not always prevent transmission; they have pores that the virus can pass through. Though most consider themselves condom pros, refresh the memory on correct application. Female condoms, consisting of a polyurethane sheath or pouch that lines the entire vagina are another protection option. For more information, visit avert.org.
- Avoid Sex with Strangers – One night stands are tempting, but just because he wears loafers, works in finance and grew up in Greenwich doesn’t mean he’s HIV free. He could be a crystal meth addict on the DL…if it can happen to Stephanie Tanner, it can happen to anyone.
- Sharing Is Not Caring – Avoid practices that increase the likelihood of blood contact, such as sharing razors or toothbrushes.
- Obey Blood Basics – Wear gloves during contact with blood or bodily fluids that could contain blood, such as urine, feces, or vomit (all good things come in threes). If gloves are not an option, do an immediate hand wash after touching any of the above.
- Neglect Needles – There are lots of ways to get high without using needles. Snort or smoke if you need to, just don’t shoot up. If fighting a serious addiction, find a rehab center.
Tests for HIV detect antibodies (disease-fighting proteins) in the blood. Normally, a small sample of blood is taken from a vein in the arm and sent to a lab for analysis. Oral tests can also be given. 99.5% accurate, results can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Some sites now offer rapid testing, with results in about half an hour. Testing is confidential, reports are only sent to personal physicians upon request. It takes anywhere from 1-3 months for antibodies to appear in the blood after infection. During this “window period” tests can come back negative even though someone has the virus and can pass it on. To get the most accurate results, experts suggest waiting 3 months after engaging in a risky activity before testing.
Reasons to Get Tested
- Engagement in risky activities such as unprotected sex and intravenous drug use
- Wanting to become a parent
- After settling on complete monogamy, both partners would like to have sex without protection
- Applying for health insurance, the armed forces, or a government agency that requires testing
An Alternate Option
If going to a test center sounds overwhelming and frightening, there is an at-home option: buy an anonymous home test kit in a drugstore or at www.homeaccess.com. Home Access® brand kits are the only home collection tests that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The kit comes with a lancet used to prick the finger. Blood is applied to a specimen card that is then sent to a lab. Results are available in 3-7 days and can be obtained by calling the number provided by the lab in the kit.
Finding a Test Site
For more information on HIV testing click here.