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ABC of HIV Prevention - Safe Sex and Condoms

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ABC of HIV Prevention - Safe Sex and Condoms

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HIV affects the immune system and makes the body susceptible to various deadly infections. Read the article to understand the ways to prevent getting infected.

Written by

Dr. Suvash Sahu

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At January 10, 2018
Reviewed AtMarch 23, 2023

What Is HIV?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is one of the most serious and deadly diseases of the modern era. So, safeguarding oneself from this critical disease is highly imperative.

How Is HIV Transmitted?

HIV can be transmitted in three main ways. Whenever there is HIV, all three routes of transmission are equally possible. Hence, it is essential to act effectively at each level of transmission to prevent further spread.

1. Sexual transmission: Unprotected sex with an infected person.

2. Transmission through blood includes,

  • Blood transfusion.

  • Use of infected needles/syringes.

  • Sharing blades/razors.

  • Tattooing, piercing of ear/nose/body parts with infected instruments.

3. Mother-to-child transmission,

  • During childbirth.

  • Breastfeeding.

How Does HIV Gets Transmitted During Sex?

HIV is present in various body fluids, like pre-cum, semen, blood, vaginal fluid, and anal mucus. If a person has HIV, their fluids containing HIV can enter their partner’s body during sex. This can involve several body organs, such as the penis, vagina, and rectum, or cuts on the body including sores in the mouth and throat. A person can transmit HIV from someone who is HIV-infected and has a considerable viral load to detect.

What Is the Purpose of Condom in HIV Prevention During Sex?

Condoms act as a mechanical barrier that restricts the entry of HIV from an infected individual into their partner’s body fluids, which occurs due to touching or during sex.

What Is the Effectiveness of Condoms in Preventing HIV?

Condoms serve as the best option to prevent STIs, including HIV. However, they should be used with utmost care to get maximum prevention. Their breakage can lead to prevention failure.

Which Type of Condoms Prevent HIV?

Condoms are of different types. Yet, all of them are effective in preventing HIV. They only need to be worn properly prior to any sexual contact. The various types of condoms include:

  • External condoms or male condoms.

  • Internal condoms or female condoms.

Dental dams: These consist of a small plastic sheet that is used to cover the mouth during oral sex, the vagina during vaginal sex, or the anus during anal sex.

Does Lube in Combination With a Condom Help to Prevent HIV?

Lubricants, or lube help in making sex easy, enjoyable, and safer by decreasing the chances of tearing or damage to the vagina or anus due to dryness or friction. It also minimizes the risk of condom breakage. However, lube is specifically essential for anal sex because of the lack of self-lubricating property of the anus and its delicacy.

Water-based lubricants are preferred over oil-based lubricants, as oil-based lubricants like vaseline, decrease the strength of the latex in condoms and can lead to their breakage.

Do Condoms Help in Preventing HIV During All Kinds of Sex?

Condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV in all kinds of sex. However, only particular types of condoms can be used for a particular kind of sex. The different sex types and their appropriate condom types are as follows:

  • Vaginal Sex: An external condom for the penis, or an internal condom for the vagina are the choices.

  • Anal Sex: Either an external condom on the penis, an internal condom for the anus, or both are used.

  • Oral Sex: An external condom for the penis, or a dental dam for the vagina are the options.

While using sex toys like dildos, an external condom for the toy, or an internal condom for the vagina or anus can be used.

What Should be Done to Prevent HIV If the Condom Breaks?

If a person is not HIV-infected or has HIV and takes its regular treatment, and has an undetectable viral load then there is no HIV risk. However, if a person is HIV-infected but does not take its routine treatment or is unsure about the viral load, a visit to a sexual health professional can help. They usually prescribe post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV after such incidents. This regime includes antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), to be taken for a month, to decrease the chance of getting HIV. Though PEP is highly successful, it cannot be a replacement for condoms.

How Can HIV Infection Be Prevented?

Among the above-mentioned routes of HIV transmission, the sexual route is more common. At an individual level, one can protect oneself from HIV by the following methods. To reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV during sex, follow the ABC approach.

  • A - Abstain from sex till one gets married or delay first sex (ideally, abstinence until marriage).

  • B - Be faithful to one partner.

  • C - Condom use correctly and consistently.

This is especially true for the young age group. 60 % of all new HIV infections worldwide occur in young people. HIV is more prevalent than they believe it to be. So, most of them live under the dangerous notion that HIV/AIDS cannot happen to them. This is the age when they become aware of their body with the development of secondary sexual characteristics and may think of experimenting or showing off which often leads to disastrous results.

How to Use a Condom Properly?

If the condom is used correctly, it is highly effective in providing protection against HIV, and also unwanted pregnancies, and STDs. But, it is essential to be aware of the correct use of the condom:

  • Use a new condom for each act of intercourse, even if it is with the same partner.

  • Use a condom before sexual contact occurs.

  • Correctly wear the condom over the penis. Unroll the condom over an erect penis, leaving space at the tip of the condom, yet ensuring no air is trapped in the condom’s tip.

  • Adequate lubrication: For latex condoms use only water-based lubricants. The use of oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline, cold cream, or baby oil can weaken the condom and result in its rupture and failure.

  • Withdraw from the partner immediately after ejaculation, holding the condom firmly to keep it from slipping off.

  • Female condoms are also available but not very popular. They entirely line the vagina and help prevent HIV and pregnancy. There are two types of female condoms - FC and FC2 female condoms.

Conclusion:

The promotion of condom use can be gauged by the efforts taken by government bodies and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to ensure its easy accessibility. Condoms should be readily available to all at a reasonable cost. The placement of automatic condom dispensers in various communities at discrete places would be a big step in the right direction in promoting condom use.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Does the ABC of Safe Sex Refer To?

The ABC of safe sex refers to:
- A: Abstinence.
- B: Be faithful (avoid multiple sex partners).
- C: Condom usage.

2.

What Are the ABCs of HIV Prevention?

The ABCs of HIV prevention are:
- A: Abstinence.
- B: Be faithful (avoid multiple sex partners).
- C: Correct and consistent condom usage.

3.

Do Condoms Prevent HIV?

HIV seroconversion studies reveal consistent, correct usage of condoms is 90 % to 95 % effective in preventing the transmission of HIV infections. Condoms act as a barrier to the exchange of fluids during sexual intercourse. The exchange of body fluids during coitus and direct contact with blood are the two chief routes of acquiring HIV during sexual contact.

4.

How Is HIV Transmitted?

The primary ways of getting HIV infected are:
- Anal or vaginal sexual activities.
- Sharing needles or syringes.
- Sharing drug injecting equipment.
- Blood transfusions.
- Breast milk.

5.

Does HIV Transmit by Kissing?

 
It is impossible to spread or acquire HIV through kissing, either through the mouth or social kissing. The routes of transmission of HIV are through needle stick contact, direct contact with infected blood, and the exchange of bodily fluids during sexual intercourse.

6.

How Fast Does HIV Transmit?

HIV can be transmitted immediately as soon as the infection is acquired. However, the incubation period within the body varies between 10 to 90 days depending on the body’s immunity. This is one of the main reasons why it is suggested to wait after unprotected sexual contact before getting an HIV test.

7.

List 10 Steps of Proper Condom Use.

The ten steps of proper condom usage:
- Verify the expiry date.
- The condom should be used before genital contact.
- Take the condom out of the package carefully.
- Squeeze air from tip to bottom.
- Roll the condom from the tip to the base of the penis.
- Always use a new condom during every intercourse.
- Ensure ejaculation inside the condom.
- Hold the condom rim while withdrawing.
- Remove the condom before the loss of erection.
- Throw out the condom in the garbage.

8.

What Is the Consequence of Not Pinching the Condom Tip?

It is essential to squeeze the tip of the condom to get rid of the air; otherwise, the condom might break during intercourse. A break in the condom may lead to several sexually transmitted diseases. Not only this, it may additionally lead to the partners to conceive.

9.

How Relevant Is the Way of Putting on the Condom?

The proper steps of putting on the condom prevent contraceptive failure. For example, if someone puts the condom backward, and it might tend to unroll. Discarding the condom for a new one is essential as fluids tend to stick onto the surface, contradicting any reuse.

10.

Is It Possible to Get HIV Even With a Condom?

The only foolproof way to avoid HIV transmission is by abstinence. Unfortunately, even though highly effective, condoms do not completely eliminate the risk of HIV infection. Therefore, it is suggested that individuals who have partnered in sexual contact must get HIV tests done at the appropriate time.

11.

What Are the Five Clinical Features of HIV?

The five symptoms of HIV infection are:
- Fever.
- Rashes.
- Muscle pains.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Night sweats.

12.

How to Know if Someone Has HIV?

The only absolute way to know if someone has been infected by HIV is by getting tested. Recognizing and matching the symptoms are just differentials that require further diagnostic testing. Furthermore, an individual must be aware of the signs and symptoms of HIV in addition to being educated on the ways to prevent the condition.

13.

How Are the Stages of HIV Categorized?

The four stages of HIV infection are:
- Seroconversion illness.
- Asymptomatic stage.
- Symptomatic stage.
- Late-stage HIV.

14.

What Are the After-Effects of HIV Infection?

HIV is acquired due to a number of reasons, unprotected sexual intercourse being the chief etiological factor. HIV infection attacks the body’s immune cells and typically takes 8 to 10 years to progress into AIDS. However, early antiretroviral therapy can prevent complications and delay the disease's progression.
Dr. Suvash Sahu
Dr. Suvash Sahu

Dermatology

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condomshiv risk factorsunprotected sex
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