transmitted through three main routes: sexual contact, exposure to infected
bodily fluids, and from mother to fetus or infant. Although HIV cannot always
be prevented, the risks can be minimized by addressing these three sources. The
first and foremost means of prevention of any preventable disease is education.
The main source of transmission for HIV is through sexual relations
involving a person infected with the virus. The risk of being exposed to the
virus can be greatly reduced by the use of condoms. Besides abstinence from
sexual activity, condoms are the single most effective mode of HIV prevention.
The most reliable form is the male latex condom. Using an oil-based lubricant
dissolves the latex, making the condoms porous, so it is recommended that
water-based lubricants should be used in conjunction with latex condoms. Female
condoms may be made from polyurethane, nitrile, or latex, and are also successful
in the prevention of HIV. Studies have also shown that male circumcision
reduces the risk of HIV infection among males.
Exposure to contaminated blood can spread the HIV virus. The use of
intravenous drugs poses a great risk for exposure. Recreational drug users can
help prevent HIV by using clean needles every time they inject drugs.
Healthcare workers are also at risk for exposure to contaminated blood. They
should wear protective gear such as gloves, masks, eyewear, and aprons to
prevent contact. Frequent washing of the hands is also important in reducing
the chance of infection.
Mother to Child
Drug regimens and
use of Caesarian section for delivery are effective at reducing the rate of HIV
transmission from mother to child during and after pregnancy. Breastfeeding is
the easiest way to transmit the disease, so mothers should refrain from
breastfeeding, and utilize replacement feeding. If you have HIV, it is
important that you discuss this with your obstetrician so you can best protect
the baby from contracting disease.