HIV can only be transmitted through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid or breast milk. This means you can prevent HIV by knowing the facts and making informed decisions about the prevention option that works best for you.
Have Safer Sex
Wearing condoms and using water based lube is the best way to prevent HIV and many other STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections).
Always use a condom when you have vaginal or anal sex.
Even if you’re using other methods of contraception or prevention (like the pill or PrEP), use condoms as well.
Use a condom when you have oral sex.
The risk of HIV from oral sex is low, but using a condom can protect you from STIs, and a dental dam gives you protection when your mouth comes in contact with your partner’s anus or vulva during sex. This is really important if you’ve got a cut or sore around your mouth or lips, or if you have bleeding gums.
Sometimes you need to stop.
If your partner has a visible sore, ulcer or lump on their genitals or anal area, don’t have sex – even with a condom. Suggest they visit a doctor or a sexual health clinic to get checked.
Play safely with toys.
STIs can also be transmitted if you share sex toys, so use condoms and change them for each person. Don’t forget to wash your hands after removing the condom and wash the toys carefully too.
Don’t be afraid to speak up.
Before you have sex, talk with your partner about using condoms or other ways to reduce your risk. You always have a right to say ‘no’ if your partner doesn’t respect your preferences. If you’re using dating apps and websites to meet people, you can add SSO (safe sex only) to your profile to start the conversation early.
If you’ve been having sex without condoms, it’s not too late to talk about safe sex. You can discuss the risks with your partner and come to an agreement you’re both comfortable with. The decision to have safer sex is important – and it’s always your decision, so don’t stay silent.
Don’t assume someone’s HIV status
Approximately 20% of people living with HIV haven’t been tested and don’t know their status.
You can’t make assumptions about someone’s HIV status based on the way they look or whether or not they ask to use a condom.
So don’t assume: using condoms and water based lube is the best way to prevent HIV and many other STIs.
Medication can prevent HIV
If you think you may have been recently exposed to HIV, accessing PEP emergency treatment ASAP may prevent infection. You must commence PEP emergency treatment within 72 hours after your possible risk exposure – so act quickly and call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
PEP is post-exposure treatment and involves a four-week course of medication that is free from most public hospitals or from sexual health clinics.
Taking a pill to prevent HIV is now an option. If you are HIV negative, taking PrEP can prevent HIV. PrEP is pre-exposure treatment that involves taking a daily pill that is one of the medications used to treat HIV.
PrEP is not for everyone and that’s OK.
The effectiveness of PrEP has been established by clinical trials conducted in gay men, heterosexual adults and people who inject drugs. The World Health Organisation now recommend that all gay men and others at risk of HIV should consider taking PrEP.
Along with other prevention methods like condoms, PrEP can offer effective protection against HIV.
Queensland’s expanded PrEP trial, QPrEPd, is now open and taking enrolments. This study will provide PrEP for up to 2,000 Queenslanders.
- For information on how to enrol in Queensland’s QPrEPd study click on, QPrEPd info.
- To find out more about PrEP, click on ComePrepd.info.
If you or your partner is living with HIV and on antiretroviral treatment, you may have an undetectable [+U] viral load. This means that the risk of passing on the HIV virus during sex is very low.
Along with other prevention methods like condoms, being undetectable can offer effective protection against HIV.
Remember that wearing condoms during sex is the only way to stop the spread of STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and also offers additional protection against HIV.
If you’re injecting, protect yourself from HIV by following these tips:
Wash your hands with soap before and after injecting, and before and after touching anyone else.
Swab the injection site with an antiseptic swab, just once, and in one direction (it’s the evaporation that kills germs, not rubbing the area).
After injecting, apply pressure to the vein using a clean cotton-wool ball.
Don’t share equipment. This includes syringes, swabs, cotton wool, filters, tourniquets, spoons etc. This equipment should be kept sterile and never shared with anyone.
Use new, sterile injecting equipment. Stock-up on clean fits from your Needle & Syringe Program or local pharmacy.
Dispose of the used equipment safely. Use a sharps container so there’s no risk of anyone else coming into contact with your fits, cotton wool and swabs. You can get sharps containers from Needle & Syringe Programs (NSP) and some pharmacies.
Pick up the syringe by the barrel, never by the tip.
Don’t try to recap or bend the needle – these are ways people get needle-stick injuries.
To find the location of your nearest Needle and Syringe Program, visit the Queensland Health website.
Find where to get tested or
access PEP Emergency Treatment
You can find the HIV testing or treatment service nearest you using this simple locator tool.
In addition to the locations listed, you can also get a HIV test from your local GP.