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The only way to ensure that you are 100% safe from HIV transmission is to abstain from sex. Outside of abstaining from sex, you can decrease your risk for HIV transmission by using a new condom each time you have sexual intercourse, to include oral sex. For oral sex on a woman, the use of a dental dam is recommended in order to decrease the risk of HIV transmission.There is more than one type of barrier available for oral, anal and vaginal sex, the first being the male condom. The male condom should be used according to the manufacturer's instructions with a water-based lubricant for anal and vaginal sex. Also available are flavored male condoms that can effectively be used for oral sex on a male. These are not recommended for vaginal penetration, as they can cause yeast infections given that they are often coated in sugar. The second most common type of protection is the female condom. This should also be used according to the manufacturer's instructions with lubricant for vaginal sex. A couple should not use a male condom and a female condom at the same time as this will cause one or both of them to rip or tear. Lastly, dental dams are recommended for oral sex on a woman and also come in assorted flavors.
You are at risk for HIV if you have unprotected vaginal, anal or oral intercourse or share needles with a partner who is positive for HIV. You cannot tell whether a person is positive for HIV by looking at them. The only way to know for sure that you are not positive for HIV is to get tested at your doctor's office, local health department, or other HIV testing facility. According to the CDC, certain populations are at an increasingly greater risk for HIV transmission:
CDC now recommends that everybody should be tested at least once per year. CDC also recommends that those people who are at high-risk of becoming infected with HIV should test more frequently. You can talk with your doctor or an HIV counselor about how frequently you should be tested for HIV.
You might be at higher risk for getting HIV if:
If your test is negative, you were either not infected with HIV, or you have been infected with HIV, but your body has not yet produced enough HIV Antibodies for the test to detect them in your blood.
If you had an unprotected sexual encounter or shared needles with anybody within the three months prior to your test, you can talk to your doctor or HIV Counselor about when you should be re-tested. During the time you are waiting to be retested, it is recommended that you abstain from sex or use a new barrier/condom with each sexual act during this time. It is also recommended that you refrain from sharing needles during drug use.
If your last unprotected sexual encounter or needle-sharing encounter was more than three months before your test and your test is negative, you now have the ability to remain negative by obtaining education on how to participate in safer sex practices. Visit the CDC to learn about safer sex practices.