HIV/AIDS Education

HIV/AIDS What is it?

HIV is the Virus that Causes AIDS
Anyone with HIV can pass it to you through blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk. One of these body fluids must get into your blood supply to become infected. Many people with HIV look healthy and feel fine. Some don’t even know they have it.

ARE YOU AT RISK?

Unprotected Sex
Men who have unprotected sex with men: The number one risky behavior for gay and bisexual men is unprotected anal sex.

Unprotected heterosexual sex
Having sex between a man and a woman – even if you think you know them well – you could be at risk.  It is not who you are that puts you at risk. It is what you do.

Injection Drug Use
Sharing contaminated needles and syringes either from drugs or steroids.

Mother to Infant
A mother who has HIV can pass it on to her baby before it’s born, during birth or while breastfeeding.

WHAT IS SAFER SEX?

Condoms
Latex condoms when used every time and used correctly, can greatly reduce the risk of HIV infection (man to man or man to woman). They are not reusable but do provide 97-99% protection. You cannot use condoms that are made out of natural fiber (lambskin) or that are for novelty. Don’t use or let someone use the excuse a condom is too small. Condoms will inflate about 3 feet long and 1 foot around. If a condom is uncomfortable, try a different kind. Condoms vary in thickness, length and width. There are now various colors and flavors to make your sexual activity fun!

The safest way to prevent HIV is to abstain from sex, drugs and alcohol.

Female Condoms
These condoms are made of polyurethane and are a good option for people who are allergic to latex. Unlike latex condoms, with polyurethane condoms you can use any type of lubrication. Female condoms give a woman an option and put her in control of practicing safer sex.

You cannot get HIV through: shaking hands, giving a hug, swimming in a pool, giving blood, using a bathroom or sitting near someone.

Dental Dams
These are small sheets of latex that provide protection against HIV infection during oral-vagina, oral-anal sex. They act as a barrier between the body of one partner and the other. If you do not have a dental dam, you can take a condom, cut the end off and up one side. This will give you a flat sheet to use.

If you choose to have sex (anal, oral, vaginal) whether with men or women, protect yourself by practicing safer sex.

Lubricants
Water based lubricants can greatly reduce the chance that a condom will break during sexual intercourse. Oil-based lubricants like petroleum jelly, body moisturizers and baby oils weaken latex and can cause condom breakages. Neither condoms nor lubricants should have the spermicide nonoxynol-9. This spermicide has been shown to break down the skin and increase the chances of infection.

HOW TO USE A CONDOM

The virus that causes AIDS cannot penetrate a latex rubber. But condoms can’t protect you if they’re not used, or used right. Here’s what you want to do:

Before
Put a drop of water-based lubricant inside the condom tip. (Keep the penis shaft free of lubricant so the rubber won’t slide off.)

Make Space for semen (if not using a reservoir-tipped condom) by holding one-half inch of the condom tip between your thumb and index finger. Place the condom on the head of the hard penis while squeezing any air out of the tip of the condom.

Hold tip with one hand and unroll condom completely with the other hand. (If penis is uncut or uncircumcised, first pull back the foreskin.)

Smooth out any extra air by gliding hand from tip to base. Rub generous quantities of water-based lubricant over the condom-covered penis if added lubrication is needed.

After
After ejaculation, hold the condom at the base of penis to keep it from falling off, then gently pull out while you’re still hard.

Start at the base of the penis and unroll the rubber so you don’t spill the semen. Throw away the used condom. Never use a rubber more than once. 

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

Using alcohol and drugs can affect your ability to make smart decision about safe sex. Take time to know your limits. If you feel out of control, you probably can’t effectively practice safe sex, so don’t have sex.

How to Clean Needles
If you must share a syringe/needle for injecting drugs or steroids, cleaning it can reduce your chance of becoming infected with HIV and other diseases.

The Best Way to Clean Your Works
Fill the syringe
Shake and tap
Then empty
Three times: First in water, then bleach and then water again.
If you can, don’t share your works
Use your own rig
Use your own cooker
Use your own spoon
Use your own cotton and water
 
Skill BuildingIt is important to learn skills that can save your life. Things like practicing safer sex, cleaning needles and learning to say no.

Don’t Fall for Stereotypes
The most attractive partners are those who practice safe sex. Use condoms. Casual sex with strangers or sharing needles for injecting drugs are not things you have to do. It is always okay to say no to sex, drugs and alcohol.

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

Accept Yourself
Myths about sex, including homosexuality and bisexuality, can affect one’s self-esteem. How you see yourself (gay, bisexual, straight) may not define who your sex partners are or have been. Whether you have sex with a man or woman, it is important to protect yourself and them. Remember, you are who you are.

Connect With Others Who Support You
Remember, you are not alone. Find organizations and people in your area where you can go for support and to meet others like yourself.

Get Tested
The HIV antibody test is used to tell if you have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Positive Directions offers two different options for HIV testing. One is a blood test and the other is an oral test. The oral test does not test saliva but gathers cells from the lining of your mouth; it takes about two weeks to get your results back. The blood test is a rapid test. Similar to diabetes screening – using a drop of blood from your finger we are able to test it for HIV antibodies with results in 20 minutes. (For the standard blood draw – please consult your physician.) A counselor will explain the test and discuss risks with you before and after testing. Following some type of risky behavior, you should wait 3 months to get tested, but to be certain you should wait 6 months. Testing helps you protect yourself and others. It helps you to start early treatment if you are positive, and relieve the stress of not knowing.

A negative test does not mean you cannot get HIV in the future.
You must continue to practice safe behavior.

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