Preventing HIV infection

HIV is harder to transmit during sex than many people think. Only five body flids can contain enough HIV to infect someone: blood, semen (including pre-cum), rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk.

HIV can only be passed when one of these fluids containing HIV gets into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person—through broken skin, the opening of the penis, the foreskin or the wet linings of the vagina and rectum.

Here are steps you can take to reduce the chances of passing or getting HIV through sex:

  • Use a new condom with each partner for anal and vaginal sex. Condoms reduce the chances of passing or getting HIV and other STIs.
  • Use lube. It helps make sex feel good and prevents friction, cuts and tears during sex.
  • Choose activities with a lower chance of passing HIV, such as oral sex, mutual masturbation and hand jobs.
  • Get tested for STIs regularly. Having an STI increases your risk of getting and passing HIV and other STIs.
  • If you are HIV positive, take your HIV treatment. People who are HIV positive, engaged in care, consistently take their HIV treatment and attain low levels of HIV in their blood (also known as undetectable viral load) do not pass on HIV to their sexual partners. 
  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) involves the use of specific HIV drugs by HIV-negative people as part of their HIV prevention strategy. For HIV-negative people who take PrEP as prescribed and have regular ongoing medical care, it is rare to become HIV positive through sex. Talk to your care provider to find out more about PrEP and whether it is right for you.

Keep in mind that HIV treatment and PrEP do not reduce the chances of passing or getting other STIs