The expression “prevention is better than cure” could not be used more appropriately when it comes to HIV and AIDS. A report by Bloomberg in 2008 stated that almost half the people in Singapore did not know that condoms can prevent HIV infection. Since the end of 2013, there were 6,229 reported cases of HIV infected Singapore residents, of which 1,671 have died. A clear understanding of how HIV is contracted is the best way of preventing you from getting HIV.
Here are the 4 ways of preventing HIV and Aids:
1. Having Protected Sex
Of course, the most effective way of preventing HIV is abstinence. However, if abstinence is not possible, use condoms whenever you engage in sexual activity (vaginal, anal or oral). HIV is contracted most commonly through having sexual intercourse with a person that has HIV or someone who has multiple sex partners which increases the risk of that person having HIV. The transference of bodily fluids (semen, vaginal fluid, rectal fluid) through vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner or even through mouth sores can allow the virus to enter your body. Therefore, the most effective way of preventing HIV through sex is by wearing a condom. An analysis of these studies found that the rate of HIV transmission was 80% lower among couples who said they always used condoms compared to couples who said they never used condoms. However, there is a still a possibility that condoms will break, slip or leak even when used correctly, allowing for an exposure to occur. The link in the resource box shows the two types of condoms that can help prevent the transmission of HIV. Also, read further at the resource box to see the fact sheet of how to use condoms effectively.
2. Limit Your Sexual Partners
If you have more than one sexual partner, the risk of you contracting HIV is higher. Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and insist that your partner(s) do, too. Having an STI can increase your risk of becoming infected with HIV.
3. Get Tested and Know Your Partner’s HIV Status
Talk to your partner and get tested before engaging in any sexual activity. Having and open conversation and understanding about HIV with your partner is one of the best ways to protect both you and your partner from contracting HIV or any other sexual transmitted infections (STI). In 2013, 41% of the new cases in Singapore already had late-stage HIV-infection-2 when they were diagnosed. Early diagnosis and consistent antiretroviral treatment (ART) can allow HIV Positive people to live a close-to-normal life span. There are many centres that approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Health Promotion Board (HPB) that provides HIV testing in Singapore.
4. Do not inject drugs
HIV can be transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis. The best way to prevent this is by not using drugs but if you do, use only sterile drug injection equipment and water and never share your equipment with others. The sharing of drug equipment is the main cause of how HIV can be spread to the next user.
Understanding how HIV and AIDS cannot be transmitted is also important to avoid the negative stigma surrounding people with HIV.
HIV is NOT spread by:
• Air or water
• Insects, including mosquitoes or ticks
• Saliva, tears, or sweat
• Casual contact, like shaking hands, hugging or sharing dishes/drinking glasses
• Drinking fountains
• Toilet seats
Being aware of how you can contract HIV and AIDS and knowing how to prevent the infection can save your life, which evidently shows the importance of spreading this awareness especially to the people you love and care about.