Preventive Care

You Can Protect Yourself from HIV

With so much of our recent lives consumed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to forget that more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. While great progress has been made in combatting this virus, it’s still essential to take safety precautions. In fact, more than 150,000 of those infected, or 13%, are not aware of their status

While we can’t completely eliminate HIV, we can do a lot to prevent future infections. Follow the steps below to learn how you can stay protected.

Stopping the Spread

Knowing your HIV status is an important part of stopping the spread of HIV.  Everyone should get tested as a part of their annual routine health care exam. AltaMed offers free and confidential HIV testing in person or we can provide you an at-home test instead.

To stay as safe as can be:

  • Practice Safe Sex — Anal and vaginal sex have the highest chance of transmitting HIV. There is little to no risk of transmitting HIV through oral sex.
  • Use condoms properly — Condoms are highly effective in stopping the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Using water-based or silicone-based lubricants will help prevent condoms from breaking or slipping during sex. Free condoms are available at AltaMed locations.
  • Consider using PrEP/PEP — PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is prescribed to people who are HIV-negative and provides an extra layer of protection. PEP stands for post exposure prophylaxis and is prescribed to individuals that may have been exposed to HIV within a 72-hour period.  PrEP and PEP prevent HIV transmission when taken exactly as prescribed. PrEP and PEP are available at AltaMed clinics and pharmacies. For walk-in services, visit our Get PrEP’d website.
  • Don’t share needles — Sharing needles or other injection equipment can increase the risk of HIV transmission. Use a new needle and syringe every time you inject drugs and avoiding sharing other equipment like cookers and cottons. Needle exchange programs and syringe service programs are available in many communities to provide sterile injection equipment and support for people who use drugs.
  • Treat STIs Some STIs like syphilis, herpes, and chlamydia, can increase the risk of HIV transmission. Treating STIs promptly can reduce the risk of HIV transmission. STI testing and treatment is available at many health care providers and clinics.
  • Get HPV vaccine — The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can protect against certain strains of HPV that can cause cancer and genital warts. HPV can increase the risk of HIV transmission. The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls starting at age 11 or 12 and is available at AltaMed.
  • Talk to your partner — Communication is an important part of staying protected from HIV and other STIs. Talking openly and honestly with your partner can help you make informed decisions about your sexual health.
  • Use sterile equipment for body piercings and tattoos — Piercings and tattoos can be a fun way to express yourself, but they can also increase the risk of HIV transmission if sterile equipment is not used. Choose a reputable piercing or tattoo shop that uses properly sterilized equipment and follows infection control procedures.

Knowledge Is Power

AltaMed provides a full range of services related to HIV and STI testing and prevention as well as treatment. If you are seeking services call the Patient Service Center at (323) 869-5448 in Los Angeles County or (714) 500-0491 in Orange County.

If you have been diagnosed with HIV, we are here to help with your medical care, connecting you to the best doctors, and providing resources like one-on-one counseling. Click here to learn more about the HIV care services available to you. Want to stay connected? Follow us on Instagram.

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You Can Protect Yourself from HIV