The Emphasis Must Be On
Prevention for HIV and AIDS
Since there is no vaccine to protect you from the HIV virus, and no cure for AIDS, the emphasis should be on the
prevention of the disease. Education about the disease and knowing how to protect yourself from being
infected is as important as avoiding any behavior that could put you at risk. Avoiding
body fluids that can transfer the HIV virus into your body is the best way to avoid getting the disease.
Those fluids include semen, blood, vaginal secretions, and breast milk.
If you are HIV negative, make plans to stay that way. Educate yourself and your loved ones, especially
your children about how the virus is transmitted. Yes, children should know how a person can get AIDS.
It will not only protect them, but will also give them an understanding for those who have the disease. They
should be taught not to be afraid of those who have AIDS, but be clear about what is unacceptable behavior.
Do not engage in unprotected sex. You should be certain your partner is not infected with HIV before you
have unprotected sex. If your partner has had multiple partners, it is not unreasonable to request a test for
HIV or to demand they wear protection. Use a condom every time you have either anal or vaginal sex. For
those who are allergic to latex, there are condoms available that are made from polyurethane. Do not depend
on lambskin condoms to protect you from HIV.
Use only water-based lubricants. Do not use petroleum jelly, cold cream, or lubricant oils to protect
yourself from being infected. Some lubricants can cause condoms to weaken and break and increases the risk of
infection. Even using condoms do not mean you are safe. They can develop tears or can break and
sometimes they are not used properly. Use a condom if you are taking part in either anal or vaginal
sex. If you practice oral sex, use a condom, a medical-grade dental dam, or plastic wrap.
Did You Know?
There are some ways you cannot get AIDS! Many of these myths persisted for years
after scientists proved AIDS could not be transferred in these ways.
You cannot get AIDS from food or water. Again, it is only transferred by sexual
contact or contact with body fluids of an individual who has HIV or AIDS. Yes, I know there was a
myth flying around you could get AIDS by getting a mosquito bite, but again this is not true.
Insects and animals cannot transfer the virus to a human. It is fine to adopt a pet from a person
who has AIDS. Giving blood cannot give you AIDS.
The danger is in receiving tainted blood that has been donated by someone who has
AIDS. Since 1985, this has been rare because all donated blood is run through tests to insure it is
not infected with HIV. It is safe to give blood because all medical equipment used is sterilized
Last, you cannot get AIDS from having every-day contact with a person suffering
from AIDS. Shaking hands, giving a hug, or being in the same room with an AIDS patient will not
cause you to be infected.
It has been proven that a male who has been circumcised has a reduced risk of getting the HIV virus through
heterosexual intercourse. A study was done in Kenya that confirmed there was a decline in men who contracted
the disease if they are circumcised. This is great news because that means there would be a reduction in
women who are being infected with the HIV virus too. HIV is spread through heterosexual sex as well as those
who practice homosexual intercourse.
If you are a drug user, you can prevent getting the HIV virus by not sharing a needle with anyone else. Use a
clean, sterilized needle and syringe and consider getting into a needle exchange program in your community.
You may also want to consider getting help for your drug use.
Researchers are trying to develop a chemical that can be used during sex as a barrier to passing
on the disease.
Knowing what increases your risk of getting the HIV virus will help you to avoid those
behaviors. If you know you are at risk, get regular screenings. Women should have a yearly Pap test,
and anyone who engages in anal sex should be screened for anal cancer.