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Preventing Transmission

 There are several recommended ways to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to your partner(s):

  • Use antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART reduces the amount of virus (viral load) in your blood and body fluids and significantly reduces your chance of transmitting HIV to your sexual partners if taken consistently and correctly. It is important to visit your health provider regularly and always take your medication as directed. 
  • Use condoms consistently and correctly with every sexual contact. When used consistently and correctly, condoms are highly effective at preventing HIV. 
  • Talk to your partners about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think they have had a possible exposure to HIV. An example of a possible exposure is if you have anal or vaginal sex without a condom or the condom breaks and your partner is HIV-negative. Your partner's chance of exposure to HIV is much lower if you are taking ART consistently and correctly, especially if your viral load is undetectable. Your partners should talk to their doctors right away (within 72 hours) if they think they have had a possible exposure to HIV. 
  • Do not share needles, syringes or other drug paraphernalia with anyone. Learn more about Victoria's Needle & Syringe Program (NSP) here
  • Choose less risky sexual behaviours. For example, oral sex is much less risky than vaginal sex. 
  • Get tested and treated for STIs and encourage your partners to do the same. If you are sexually active, get tested at least once a year. STIs can have long-term health consequences. They can also increase the chance of transmitting HIV to others.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are considering getting pregnant. HIV-positive mothers can pass the virus to their babies while pregnant, during birth or though breastfeeding. Advances in treatments have greatly reduced the risk of mother-to-child transmission when appropriate precautions are taken.  

This Straight Arrows booklet provides further information on negotiating safe and satisfying sex, dealing with disclosure and keeping yourself sexually healthy. It contains detailed information about sexual health, sexually transmitted infections and safer sex.