HIV stands for human Immunodeficiency virus. It is mostly known as a sexually-transmitted infection, but it can be transmitted in several other ways. The virus attacks the body’s immune cells that are necessary to fight diseases and bacteria. HIV that is untreated can progress into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). If you belong to the LGBTQ community, you may be at an increased risk of contracting HIV; therefore, it is important to know how to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Use Condoms
Sex is the most common way that the virus can be transmitted. The virus lives in bodily fluids (e.g. vaginal fluids, semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, rectal fluids, and blood); therefore, if you do not use condoms, you will be exposing your partner to the virus. Though you may not need condoms for contraception, you do need them as a barrier for STIs.

Consider PrEP

The PrEp pill uses anti-HIV medication to help HIV-negative people not get infected with the virus. It is 92% effective and covered by most insurance plans. It is a great option for those who are HIV-negative and have relations with HIV-positive partners.

Do Not Share Needles
Intravenous drug use is the second most common way that the virus is transmitted. If you are an IV drug user, do not share used needles with another person because the virus lives in your blood, which contaminates the needle. If you and another person must use the same needle, make sure the needle is sterilized thoroughly before the other person uses it.

Avoid Exposing Others to Your Blood
Before being treated by another person for an injury that involves you bleeding, let them know that you have the virus so that they can be mindful of any open wounds on their hands, protect their hands if they wish and/or wash their hands thoroughly. Do not donate blood to people. If you are getting a tattoo, let the tattoo artist know to be extra mindful about cleaning the needle.

Know Where You Can Turn to For Help
If you have HIV, getting treated is key to living a long, healthy, and happy life. As a member of the LGBTQ community, you can utilize our services at CIRCLE CARE Center. We are a primary care clinic in Southern Connecticut for the LGBTQ population. We provide services to take care of physical and mental health, including substance abuse. Contact us at CIRCLE CARE Center today for more information or to schedule an appointment.