HIV is transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. HIV is most easily spread through receptive anal sex (bottoming), vaginal sex, and sharing needles and preparation equipment for injection drugs, but can also be spread by insertive anal sex (topping) and oral sex. Whether you are HIV-positive or not, you should always take precautions to protect yourself.
Our care providers and researchers have been working with HIV patients for over 20 years, and we would like to share the following steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV or spreading the infection to others:
- Know your HIV status. Anyone who is sexually active or shares equipment for injection drug use should be tested for HIV at least once. If you are at ongoing risk for HIV, you should consider being tested for HIV at least once a year. To discuss your risk for HIV, please make an appointment with one of our trained testing counselors by calling 800-BTR-2KNW (800-287-2569).
- Locate an HIV testing site. Get your HIV test results in 20 minutes or less. Rapid HIV testing is available in Santa Fe and Albuquerque at our Harkle and Jefferson locations.
To discuss how you can protect yourself from HIV infection, please make an appointment for HIV testing with one of Southwest CARE Center’s trained testing counselors by calling 855-BTR-2KNW (800-287-2569). Outreach
You can search for additional HIV testing sites in the state of New Mexico at http://www.nmhivguide.org/. You can also call 800-CDC-INFO, visit www.gettested.cdc.gov or www.locator.hiv.gov, or texting your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).
- Get tested and treated. Get tested for STIs and encourage your partners to do so also. If you test positive for an STI, get treatment as soon as possible. Many STIs are 100% treatable with simple antibiotics.
- Abstain from sexual activity or be in a long-term monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner or an HIV-infected partner whose viral load is consistently undetectable on antiretroviral therapy.
- Talk to your sexual partner(s). Talking about sexual history, any sexual preferences, STIs, HIV, and testing can help protect you and any potential partner(s). It’s also a good way to learn more about your partner(s) and your relationship(s).
- Avoid high-risk activities with partners of unknown HIV status.The activities with highest risk of contracting HIV are unprotected/condomless receptive anal or vaginal intercourse and the sharing of injection drug equipment.
- Limit your number of sex partners. The fewer partners you have, the less likely you are to encounter someone who is infected with HIV or another sexually transmitted infection (STI).
- Know how to correctly use condoms and be consistent in their use. Latex condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV and other STIs. “Natural” or lambskin condoms do not provide sufficient protection against HIV infection. If you or your partner is allergic to latex, polyurethane condoms are the best alternative.
- Avoid sharing any of your needles or injection equipment with other people. It is recommended that you use a new needle and injection equipment (spoons, caps, cotton, etc.) every time you inject. For new needles, equipment, and containers to safely dispose of syringes, please visit one of New Mexico’s syringe exchange sites: NMDOH-HarmReduction. If you cannot access a syringe exchange site, syringes can be purchased over the counter at some pharmacies without a prescription.
- Consider taking PrEP if you have ongoing exposure or high-risk exposure to HIV. Our dedicated PrEP Navigators can help you obtain PrEP as affordable as possible. Call 1-505-955-9454 today to get started!