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The Real Deal On Preventing HIV

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Dear Dr. Levister: My boyfriend refuses to use a condom during sex. He says they cause extreme burning and don’t protect against HIV. He says I should get vaccinated against HIV. Where can I find this vaccine?  L.R.

Dear L.R.: Look your lying prince in the eye and tell him you’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn you want to sell him. That’s before you dump him.

Despite significant efforts, there is no effective vaccine against HIV. The only way to prevent infection by the virus is to avoid behaviors that put you at risk, such as sharing needles or having unprotected sex. In this context, unprotected sex means sex without a barrier such as a condom. Because condoms break, even they are not perfect protection.  Many people infected with HIV don’t have any symptoms. There is no way to know with certainty whether a sexual partner is infected.  Black and Hispanic women make up 85 percent of reported AIDS diagnoses among women, although they represent only 25 percent of all women according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here are some more prevention strategies:

abstain from sex. Studies show this has limited appeal, but it obviously protects against HIV transmission by this route. Have sex with a single partner who is uninfected.  Mutual monogamy between uninfected partners eliminates the risk of sexual transmission of HIV.

Steer clear of condoms made from lambskin.  They won’t protect you. CONDOMS MADE OF LATEX SHOULD BE USED.  Only water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms. If your boyfriend is allergic to latex condoms suggest he consider non latex polyurethane condoms or contact his physician or health specialist.

If you work in a health care field, follow national guidelines for protecting yourself against needle sticks and exposure to contaminated fluids.

Do not share needles or illicit drugs. If you have engaged in risky behaviors, get tested to see if you have HIV.

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