Prevention of STIs, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis
Today there are more tools available to prevent STIs, HIV, and viral hepatitis. Read more about the different options available below. Choose and use the tool(s) that work best for you.
Abstinence and/or celibacy are the only ways to completely avoid STIs, HIV, and viral hepatitis. Those options may work for some, but we know abstinence does not work for all people. For those who do have sex, there are other ways to prevent STIs, HIV, and viral hepatitis.
Limit your sexual partners and have open conversations about sex. This includes conversations about experiences between you and your partner, as well as experiences between your partner and other people. Discuss previous sexual activities and any injection drug use or needle sharing. Talk openly about your history as well.
Condoms and dental dams are an effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV and STIs that are passed through body fluids. Using condoms and dental dams can also prevent STIs that are passed skin-to-skin, which includes oral sex.
If you aren't using condoms, using lube can help reduce the risk of creating small tears in your skin that increase your chances of coming into contact with STIs.
When combined with other options like PrEP for people who do not live with HIV, or HIV medication for people who live with HIV and are undetectable, condoms provide even more protection.
Using sterile needles and syringes each and every time you inject drugs is an effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV). The same goes for using sterile cottons and cookers to prevent the transmission of HCV. If you need to access syringes and other harm reduction services, there are syringe service access programs available throughout the state to reduce harms associated with drug use including injection-related health risks and overdose.
When people who are living with HIV are connected to HIV care and taking prescribed HIV medications, they can lower their viral load so much that the virus is undetectable and cannot pass through sex. That means they can have an active and healthy sex life with their partner(s). Learn more about getting and living well with HIV here.
For people who are not living with HIV, there are medications available to help prevent getting HIV called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is available as a pill or shot. Learn more on our PrEP page.
For people who need access to emergency medicine after a potential exposure to HIV, there are medications available to help prevent getting HIV called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP is available as a pill and needs to be started within 72 hours of exposure to HIV. PEP can be accessed through a clinic, emergency room, or urgent care center.
For people who are diagnosed with STIs, like syphilis, gonorrhea and chylamydia, and/or viral hepatitis, like hepatitis B and hepatitis C, there are medications available to treat that infection. People living with hepatitis C who complete their prescribed hepatitis C treatment can be cured!
Some STIs, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), can be prevented through vaccination. Currently, there is no vaccine available for HIV.