Preventing HIV in 2017 is a little more complex than “just wear a condom.”

But don’t worry, we will mentions condoms. Calm down. Here are seven ways you can prevent HIV:

1. Testing

We should all be getting tested for HIV at least once a year. Maybe more depending on the type(s) of sex you have. The riskier the sex you’re having means you’ll need to get tested more often. It has never been easier to get tested for HIV. There’s rapid finger prick testing, home testing, home self-testing, testing in clinics, testing in bars, testing in saunas and there’s even still the traditional ‘take your blood at the GP’ kind of testing.

2. Talk

Discussing your HIV status, talking about when you last tested and being upfront about the type of sex you want to have, can help you make an informed decision about how safe you can and want to be. This is not a fool proof strategy for staying HIV-negative, some people just assume they know what their status is. Just use the conversation to guide your safer sex. This also doesn’t mean stigmatising someone living with HIV. By all means discuss your status when arranging a hook-up (for example) but questions like “are you clean?” are unhelpful, inaccurate and insulting.

3. Education

Take a bit of time to learn about HIV. Do you assume that avoiding anyone who’s positive will keep you negative? If so, you’re wrong. An HIV-positive person who is on medication can become undetectable – this means the amount of the virus is so low that it’s impossible to pass it on. It’s actually ‘safer’ shagging an undetectable HIV-positive guy than it is a man who just assumes their negative status. Also, by knowing this, you aren’t stigmatising someone living with HIV.

4. Sex

Know what you’re getting into, so to speak. How risky is fucking? How risky is getting fucked? How risky are blow jobs? Knowing the answer to some of these could help you figure out how to have your fun more safely. You might not be that into anal, but it doesn’t mean that the rest of the sex you’re having is 100% risk free, particularly when it comes to STIs.

5. PEP

PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is emergency medication you can take if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV. You can get it in sexual health clinics and in A&E departments of some hospitals – which might be needed if your clinic is closed at the weekend. The main thing to remember about PEP is that you must take it within 72 hours of exposure and the sooner you take it, the more likely it is to work. PEP isn’t a magic pill, it isn’t always effective and it’s not for regular use.

6. PrEP

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is medication you can take which can stop you getting HIV. A trial is now being conducted in England and if you wish to join, you can find a participating clinic at www.prepimpacttrial.org.uk. You can also buy PrEP online via www.iwantprepnow.co.uk, which can advise you on the most cost-effective way to take it.

7. Condoms

Let’s finish with the one you’re all expecting to see. Wearing a condom can help protect against HIV and a myriad of other STIs. There’s lots of different types of condoms out there, tailor-made to fit your needs. The thing is condoms can fail. They can break, slip off or you can damage the condoms by using the wrong type of lube. That’s why having a back-up plan or combining different safer sex strategies can keep you safer.


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