Human-Immunodeficiency-Virus, or HIV, is an infectious agent that has killed over 25-million people since the beginning of the epidemic in the early 1980s. Currently, over 33.4 million people in the world are infected with HIV or have AIDS, meaning they are in the final-stage of the HIV disease. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. That means prevention is the most important step in protecting your health. Watch this video to educate yourself about how HIV is transmitted and how you can avoid becoming infected.

1.Understand how HIV spreads. There’s a lot of misinformation about how the disease is spread, so educate yourself in order to protect yourself. HIV is transmitted when infected blood, breast-milk, semen, or vaginal-secretions come in contact with broken-skin or mucous-membranes (i.e., mouth, nose, vagina, rectum, penis opening). HIV can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse, as well by blood-blood contact and contact with bodily fluids.

2.Know how infection is transmitted. HIV is transmitted by certain bodily-fluids, but not all of them. They are: blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, breast-milk and vaginal-fluid. Any exposure to these fluids could result in acquiring HIV
Note that saliva or phlegm do not contain the virus. This means that exposure is not possible through kissing, sneezing, or coughing, unless visible amounts of blood are mixed with the other bodily fluids. Even then, transmission through brief contact is highly unlikely.

3.Always, always, always use protection. Only engage in unprotected sex if you are in a mutually monogamous relationship in which both you and your partner are uninfected by HIV or any other STD. This is the most important part of preventing HIV. Protected sex will go the furthest to protect you and your partner if one of you is at risk or has contracted an HIV infection. Of course, it’s easy to say “just this one time” to skipping protection but all it takes is one time: be on the safe side and insist on protection.

4.Do not re-use or share needles when injecting drugs or receiving piercings or tattoos. Use new, sterile syringes each time, or confirm with the tattoo artist that they are not re-using a needle. Make sure to receive your needles from a reputable source and Never reuse or share them

5.Protect any toys you use as well. If you have sex toys that both you and your partner use, it’s a good idea to practice safe-sex with those as well. Keep them clean, use condoms on them, and clean them between anal and vaginal use, as well as between use by different people.

6. Realize that most social interactions cannot spread HIV. Speaking with or shaking hands with HIV+ people is completely harmless, so you do not need to worry whether anyone you meet has HIV. The virus cannot survive in air, water, or most other substances outside of the human body, so sharing food, swimming in the same pool, or sharing a bathroom with an HIV+ person will not transmit an infection.