KEEPING HIV AWAY


AIDS may not yet be completely manageable, but it's completely preventable. And there's still plenty of incentive to prevent it.
For example, even while incidence in the United States is decreasing, worldwide rates of AIDS infection are soaring. While the rates for homosexual men are dropping, they're still high. And while the rates for heterosexual men are still low, they're rising. Any way you look at it, there's a problem out there.
Solve it by doing the right things. Let's assume that you, a health-minded individual, are not in the habit of shooting illegal drugs into your veins with used needles. There's pan of your AIDS risk taken care of. Virtually all the rest is from unprotected sexual relations. Protect your sex and you won't get AIDS, says Dr. Kassler.
Unprotected sex is dangerous because HIV can be transmitted through semen and vaginal secretions as well as blood. But if neither of you has HIV, then there's nothing to transmit. "If you're in a mutually monogamous relationship with somebody who is uninfected, that's safe sex," Dr. Kassler says. "You can do whatever you want."
That's simple enough, but it begs a question: How do you know? The sad fact is that you don't—unless you've both been recently tested or have been monogamous together long enough for any infections from previous relationships to declare themselves. Anybody can have HIV, and you can't tell just by looking at a person.
So protecting yourself against HIV and AIDS comes down to what you do and whom you do it with. "Limiting the number of people you have sex with helps," Dr. Kassler says. "However, choosing your partners wisely comes first."

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