HIV AIDS Stigma and education

How Can HIV Be Prevented?

How Can HIV Be Prevented?

Because the most common ways HIV is transmitted is through anal or vaginal sex or sharing drug injection equipment with a person with HIV, it is important to take steps to reduce the risks associated with these. They include:

  • Know your HIV status. Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once. If you are at increased risk for HIV, you should be tested for HIV at least once a year.
    • If you have HIV, you can get medical care, treatment, and supportive services to help you stay healthy and reduce your ability to transmit the virus to others.
    • If you are pregnant and find that you have HIV, treatments are available to reduce the chance that your baby will have HIV
  • Abstain from sexual activity or be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. The fewer partners you have, the less likely you are to encounter someone who has HIV or another STD.
  • Correct and consistent condom use. Latex condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV and some other sexually transmitted diseases. “Natural” or lambskin condoms do not provide sufficient protection against contracting HIV.
  • Get tested and treated for STDs and insist that your partners do too.
  • Male circumcision has also been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from women to men during vaginal sex.
  • Do not inject drugs. If you inject drugs, you should get counseling and treatment to stop or reduce your drug use. If you cannot stop injecting drugs, use clean needles and works when injecting.
  • Obtain medical treatment immediately if you think you were exposed to HIV. Sometimes, HIV medications can prevent infection if they are started quickly. This is called post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • Participate in risk reduction programs. Programs exist to help people make healthy decisions, such as negotiating condom use or discussing HIV status. Your health department can refer you to programs in your area.

What the CDC Is Doing

CDC and its partners are pursuing a high-impact prevention approach to advance the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and maximize the effectiveness of current HIV prevention methods. This approach focuses on implementing programs that have shown the greatest potential to reduce new HIV cases in populations and geographic areas at highest risk and on a scale large enough to yield the greatest possible impact on the HIV epidemic. Examples of activities addressing African American communities include:

  • The Act Against AIDS campaign delivers culturally appropriate messages about HIV. “Take Charge. Take the Test.” encourages African American women to get tested for HIV. “Testing Makes Us Stronger,” is aimed at increasing HIV testing among black MSM. For more information, visit
  • An active part of the Act Against AIDS campaign, the Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), is a $16 million, six-year partnership between CDC and the country’s leading organizations that represent the populations hardest hit by HIV. AAALI was initially formed to provide critical funding and to intensify HIV prevention efforts in black communities, but has since expanded to include organizations that focus on black MSM and the Latino community.
  • Expanded Testing Initiative (ETI). In 2010, CDC announced a second three-year expanded HIV testing program that builds on an initiative started in 2007 to increase HIV testing among African Americans. In the first three years of the project, more than 2.8 million tests were conducted and 18,432 people were newly diagnosed with HIV. Most of the people who were tested (57.4%) and diagnosed with HIV (66.0%) were African American. ETI includes 30 health jurisdictions and focuses on increasing HIV testing among African Americans and Latinos, as well as MSM and injection drug users of all races and ethnicities. Funding for the program was increased from $36 million per year to more than $50 million per year.
  • In September 2011, CDC awarded $55 million for HIV Prevention Projects for Young Men of Color Who Have Sex with Men (YMCSM) and Young Transgender (YTG) Persons of Color, to provide effective HIV prevention services over five years to YMCSM and YTG persons of color and their partners regardless of age, gender, and race/ethnicity.
  • CDC provides support and technical assistance to health departments and community-based organizations to deliver effective prevention interventions for African Americans. Efforts include:
    • WILLOW, which emphasizes gender pride among HIV-positive African American women, informs them how to identify and maintain supportive social networks and healthy relationships, and learn coping strategies and safe sex communication skills;
    • Sister to Sister and SIHLE provide culturally sensitive health information to empower and educate African American women and adolescent females;
    • Nia educates African American heterosexual men about HIV/AIDS and its effect on their communities and motivates risk-reduction behaviors by effective condom use;
    • d-up: Defend Yourself!! and Many Men, Many Voices address social, cultural, and religious norms, promote condom use, and assist black MSM in recognizing and handling HIV risk-related racial and sexual bias. For information, visit

CDC also supports research to reduce HIV risk among African Americans.