10 ways women can protect themselves from contacting HIV if their partners have HIV
Women whose partners are HIV positive can protect themselves from contacting the HIV virus by following certain steps.
Living with HIV-positive partner can be scary for both the informed and the uninformed. This is mainly because of the fear and the ignorance that surround this virus and the stigma that follow people living with it.
Dear Woman, if your partner is HIV-Positive and you are HIV-negative, you need to know that a relationship such as yours is known as “mixed status.”
A “mixed-status” relationship is a sexual relationship in which one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative. This can involve a couple in a long-term relationship or a single encounter between two partners.
Beyond the nomenclature, though, you need to know how to protect yourself so that you also don’t become HIV-positive during your relationship. Remember, the global goal is to achieve zero-HIV infection and zero AIDS-related death.
To start with, you must realize that as far as mixed-status couples are concerned, the possibility of HIV infection is a constant reality. There is always a risk of transmitting HIV, but you can minimize it.
You can protect yourself by following these 10 steps. It won’t be easy, but you have to do it for yourself:
1. Encourage your HIV-positive partner to enrol in the hospital, where he can regularly receive HIV medications, otherwise called anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
2. Encourage your partner to take all of his HIV medications at the right time. This ‘medication adherence’ will lower your partner’s viral load, keep your partner healthy, and reduce your own risk of getting infected with HIV.
3. Use condoms consistently and correctly. When used correctly and consistently, condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV infection, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.
4. Choose less risky sexual behaviours. For instance, if your partner is HIV-positive, don’t practice oral or anal sex with him/her. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for HIV transmission.
5. HIV can be sexually transmitted via blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluid, and vaginal fluid.
6. Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This is a way for people who don’t have HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill contains two medicines that are also used to treat HIV. Along with other prevention methods like condoms, PrEP can offer good protection against HIV if taken every day.
7. Doctors recommend PrEP for people who are HIV-negative but at substantial risk for HIV infection. This includes HIV-negative individuals who are in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner, as well at others at high risk.
8. Get tested for HIV at least once a year so that you are sure about your HIV status and can take action to keep healthy.
9. Get tested and treated for other Sexually Transmitted Diseases and encourage your partner to do the same. STDs can have long-term health consequences. They can also increase your chance of getting HIV.
10. If either of you are sexually active outside the partnership, you should get tested at least once a year and talk to your provider about whether more frequent testing is of benefit.