Preventing HIV Infection

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Preventing infection by HIV involves preventing its spread through it's common means of transmission: sexual contact & blood and blood products.

Sexual transmission

  • Abstinence from sexual relations is the only absolute way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV.
  • Any divergence from the monogamous nature of a relationship by either party puts both parties at risk.
  • Use of condoms can markedly decrease the chance of transmission of HIV. It should be remembered that condoms are not 100 percent effective in preventing transmission of HIV infection, and there is an approximately 10 percent failure rate of condoms used for contraceptive purposes.
  • Most condom failures result from breakage or improper use. Latex condoms are preferable as virus has been shown to leak through natural skin condoms.
  • Petroleum based gels should never be used for lubrication of the condom as they increase the likelihood of condom rupture.

Blood and blood products

  • The most effective way to prevent transmission of HIV infection among intravenous drug users (IVDUs) is to stop the use of injecting drugs.
  • For those who will not or cannot do so and who will continue to inject drugs, the avoidance of sharing needles and other paraphernalia is the best way to avoid transmission of infection.
  • It is important for IVDUs to be tested for HIV infection and counseled in order to avoid transmission of HIG to their sexual partners.
  • Prevention of HIV transmission through transfused blood products has been dramatically decreased by a combination of screening all blood donors for HIV infection as well as self-deferral of individuals who may be at risk for HIV infection.
  • In countries where there is an alternative to breast feeding, bottled formula and milk should be used when a mother is HIV positive. The avoidance of breast feeding may not be practical in some countries where nutritional concerns override the risk of HIV transmission.

Let us all do our part in educating the youth to help prevent HIV infection.

Excerpt from Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine 13th ed.

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