Prevention

There may not be a cure for HIV but it is 100% preventable. Most new HIV transmissions are the result of unprotected sex and sharing needles. The good news is we have a few tips and tricks to keep you safe and lower your risk of transmission.

Male Condoms

One of the most effective tools to fight against sexually transmitted HIV is the male condom. Condoms are easy to use, cheap to buy (or free at any of our offices) and extremely efficient at preventing HIV transmission. Condoms come in all shapes, sizes, textures, tastes and materials. If you or a partner doesn’t like one type, try another – the possibilities are endless!

Remember: All condom packages should carry an expiry date. Throw them away if the date has passed. Try not to store condoms in direct sunlight or in very warm or cold places.

How to put a condom on:

  1. Check expiry date
  2. Open condom package (don’t use your teeth, you might break the condom)
  3. Determine which way the condom is rolled.Tips up!
    • Placing on hand on either side, pinch the rolled ring of the condom between you thumb and finger
    • Gently roll the condom in one direction with your fingers. If it resists rolling, this is not the direction in which you will want to unroll the condom over the penis
  4. Get hard!
  5. Pinch the tip!
  6. Get rolling! The condom should easily unroll down the length of the shaft.
  7. Lube it up! Water- and silicon-based lubricants are both safe to use with latex, but water-based lube washes off more easily and won’t stain your sheets.
  8. Sexy time!

How to take off a condom:

  1. Immediately after ejaculation grasp the bottom of the condom with your hand and withdraw, preventing the condom from slipping off or spilling.
  2. Slide it off to remove it
  3. Tie a knot at the condom’s opening to prevent the contents from spilling after its removal
  4. Throw the used condom in the trash

Lube

More lubrication makes for safer sex because it lowers the risk of tiny breaks or lesions on or inside the genitals. Remember, the best lube… is lube. Whipping cream might seem sexy but oil based products (including Vaseline, hand cream, or massage oil) can actually break down latex condoms.

Female Condom

Female condoms, also called insertive condoms, are a thin piece of polyurethane that acts like a loose lining inside the vagina.

To use:

  1. Squeeze the inner ring and simply push gently inside the vagina with your finger, as if inserting a tampon.
  2. Push the condom in as far as it will go; the inner ring will stop at the cervix and cannot accidentally pass into the body.
  3. The other end of the condom remains outside the body and covers the labia.
  4. After ejaculation and before standing up, take the condom by the outer edges and gently twist as you remove it from the vagina, being careful not to spill the fluids inside.

Insertive condoms are designed for vaginal sex. Male condoms are the best choice for anal sex, but if decide to use an insertive condom it’s best to remove the inner ring and check frequently to make sure the condom doesn’t slip inside the rectum.

Pro tip: Don’t use a male and female condom at the same time. This increases the risk of slipping or breaking.  

Dental Dams

A dental dam is a rectangular piece of latex that can be used as a barrier during oral sex. The same is placed over the vulva or anus and help in place during oral stimulation. A few drops of lubricant can increase sensation. Be sure to remember which side you used for what.

Pro Tip: DIY a dental dam out of a male condom. Simply snip off the tip and open end of a condom and cut down the length. What you will have is a square piece of latex that can be used the same as a dental dam.

Along with unprotected sex, the sharing of needles and syringes is a sure fire way to put yourself at risk for HIV transmission.

New Prevention Technologies

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)

PrEp is a new HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take a daily pill to reduce their risk of becoming infected. When used consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection among adult men and women at very high risk for HIV infection through sex or injection drug use.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

PEP involves taking anti-HIV medications as soon as possible after you may have been exposed to HIV to try and reduce the chance of becoming HIV positive. These medications keep HIV from making copies of itself and spreading through your body. To be effective, PEP must begin within 72 hours of exposure, before the virus has time to make too many copies of itself in your body. PEP consists of 2-3 antiretroviral medications and should be taken for 28 days.

For more information, contact us

Safer Injecting

To prevent HIV transmission when injecting drugs, use a new, clean needle and rig every time. You can get new needles and other resources at any HIV Community Link office as well as Safeworks in Calgary. Know what’s yours and never share. After you inject, recap the needle and put it in a sealed, puncture proof container like a plastic pop bottle and bring it to a needle exchange or leave it in one of the yellow drop boxes around the city. Never dump it where someone could find it and get hurt.