for Veterans and the Public
HIV is spread mostly through four body fluids:
- vaginal fluid
- breast milk
There is no vaccine to prevent HIV, and no cure for HIV, but there ARE ways you can reduce your risk of HIV. We can reduce risk by:
- HIV testing: A step toward prevention. If you've never had one before, ask your provider for an HIV test. Everyone should be tested at least once in their lifetime. If you think you might be at risk for HIV, talk to your provider about how often you should be tested and about the prevention methods listed below. In addition to HIV testing, ask about testing for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you do have an STI, it is important to be tested for HIV as well and to talk about prevention methods.
- Treating people who have HIV. If a person with HIV is on HIV meds (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) with a consistently undetectable HIV viral load, the HIV virus cannot be transmitted to a sex partner. A good way to remember this is U=U or "Undetectable = Untransmittable." As a prevention strategy, this is often referred to as Treatment as Prevention, or TasP.
- Using PrEP for people at high risk for HIV. PrEP is a daily medication (Truvada or Descovy) that is highly effective at preventing HIV. PrEP is available at VA! Make sure you get an HIV test before you start and stay up to date on STI testing while on PrEP. Ask your provider about self-testing options. Learn more about PrEP
- Practicing safe sex. Condoms are available via prescription at VA. Ask your provider for a condom prescription at your next appointment. Tips for using condoms
- Practicing safer injection drug use. If you need help to stop using drugs, please talk to your VA provider. If you do inject drugs, make sure you use clean equipment and practice safer injecting. Find more information.
View our factsheet for additional tips on preventing HIV.