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Four ways you can protect yourself against HIV this summer

PROTECTION: Terrence Higgins Trust highlights four different tools you can use to protect yourself and other from HIV

TERRENCE HIGGINS Trust wants to make sure we all know the four ways to protect ourselves against HIV this summer

The first thing that comes to mind when speaking about HIV prevention is condoms, and although this is correct condoms are not the only way to protect yourself from HIV.

There are four different tools you can use to protect yourself and other from HIV. Those are: testing, condoms, PrEP and treatment.

Testing

While we’re seeing a fall in HIV rates, many of us are testing late, which means we’re missing on treatment to keep us healthy. Public Health England reported that 69 per cent of black African men and 50 per cent of women were diagnosed late in 2017.

Most people get HIV from someone who doesn’t know they have it – the only way to be sure is to get tested. Testing for HIV is free, fast and most importantly confidential; you can now even do it at home.

Condoms

We understand that some people may not want to use condoms, however they are still the best way to protect yourself from sexual transmitted infections, including HIV.

Everyone knows about condoms, so we’ll spare you the details. However, what some people don’t know is that condoms come in different materials and sizes. You’ve just got to find the condom that’s right for you and your partner.

PrEP

If condoms aren’t for you, you might want to consider PrEP. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a pill taken by HIV-negative people before sex that reduces the risk of getting HIV.

Taking PrEP before being exposed to HIV means there’s enough drug inside you to block HIV if it gets into your body. The drugs used in PrEP are the same drugs that are prescribed to thousands of people living with HIV every year.

PrEP is available free for black African women and men from some sexual health clinics as part of the IMPACT trial in England. For more information visit: https://www.prepimpacttrial.org.uk/

Treatment

If diagnosed with HIV thanks to treatment you can not only live a long healthy life, but you also can’t pass it onto others.

Scientists and doctors have been observing effective HIV treatment for the last twenty years, and have confirmed that someone living with HIV, on treatment, with extremely low levels of the virus in their blood, cannot transmit the virus to someone else sexually, even if condoms are not used during sex.

HIV treatment is free of charge in the UK to all who need it, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

We want everyone to know that there are now tools you can use to not only maintain good sexual health, but protect yourself and others from HIV – and it’s time we start educating our communities on how to use them.

By choosing one or more of these prevention options, everyone can play their part in stopping HIV – and most importantly, protecting themselves and their loved ones.

To find out more about how you can protect yourself and others from HIV visit It Starts With Me.

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