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There are medications that can prevent a recent HIV infection from developing if it's caught quickly. If you think you might have been exposed to the HIV virus in the past 72 hours, go to your local emergency room immediately for advice and testing.

In general, there are things you can do to lower the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for yourself and those you care about.

  • Reduce your number of sexual partners. The fewer partners you have, the less chance you'll be exposed to STIs, including HIV.
  • Use latex or polyurethane condoms for any kind of sexual activity with another person, as well as shared sex toys. Use a new condom for each person, each time.
  • Don't use spermicides containing nonoxynol-9 (N-9). They can actually increase the risk of HIV transmission and other STIs.
  • Use new needles and drug-injecting equipment every time you inject. Never share a needle.
  • If you get or give tattoos, insist on using only properly sterilized equipment.
  • Get tested regularly for HIV and other STIs, and ask your sexual partners to do the same.

The Condom Checklist

  • Use a new latex or polyurethane condom for each person, each time.
  • Store latex condoms at room temperature (not too hot, not too cold). Check the expiry date on the condom package before use.
  • Don't use oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, lotion or baby oil with latex condoms. These weaken and destroy latex.
  • If a condom breaks during sex and you are concerned about pregnancy or STI infection, talk to your healthcare provider. If you suspect you are at risk for HIV infection, go to your local emergency room immediately for advice and testing.