How can I prevent HIV?

Putting a condom on a bananaCondom use is an effective way of preventing HIV transmission. They are estimated to be 80 to 85% effective in preventing HIV, in normal use (where there might be some breakage or slippage) if they are used 100% of the time. Find out more about how effective condoms are from NAM.

Condoms are available for free at most sexual health clinics and community based HIV organisations.

Condoms also help to prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and can be used to prevent pregnancy. If you want to prevent STIs and/or pregnancy as well as HIV, condoms might be your best option.

Male condoms are most commonly used, but female condoms are also available.

The female condom is easy to use with a little practice. If you can use a tampon, you can probably use a female condom. The female condom comes ready lubricated but you can always add more lubrication if you want to. It can be used for vaginal or anal sex. One of the benefits of a female condom is that you can insert it ahead of foreplay and sex. Female condoms have improved significantly over the years, so even if you have tried them in the past and had challenges, it could be worth trying again.

Always check the expiry date before use. Don’t use expired condoms. Never re-use a condom.

Personal story: condoms
I am a woman living with HIV, though I once was not living with the virus. I have had passionate sex, steamy heated moments and tender caresses. Mainly with condoms in the equation. Thing is, I have a latex allergy and sensitivity, so latex condoms most often caused water infections, thrush and friction sores. None of which were fun, particularly when in the throes of passion and longing.
Non-latex condoms are not supplied freely in GUM clinics so, for any sex or passion event I preferred to either be at home where I had a supply, or tried to ensure I carried supplies with me. So, once, maybe twice, I had condomless sex with someone who had HIV and I contacted the virus. Not at home, without supplies. Caught up in a moment. I am not of childbearing age so am not taking the pill. Now, I could take PrEP.