Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human inmmunodefiiciency virus (HIV). AIDS severely damages the immune system, and the Mayo Clinic states it is ultimately a terminal illness. This disease strikes people of all backgrounds and ages, from newborns to the elderly. AIDS is a communicable illness that can be usually be prevented by taking appropriate precautions.
Abstain From Sex
Abstaining from any sexual activity that would give you contact with someone's vaginal fluid, pre-seminal fluid or semen is the most effective way to avoid getting AIDS through sexual contact.
Having one sexual partner who is having sex only with you can help prevent AIDS. Both partners must have been tested and found to be HIV negative. Keep in mind that HIV antibodies do not show up immediately, and retesting must be performed in some cases. For example, both partners can be tested and then, after a period of abstinence or condom use, retested. If all test results are negative and both partners remain monogamous, HIV infection should not occur. A physician can determine what period of time should pass between the first test and the second.
Use an Appropriate Condom
Using a latex or plastic (polyurethane) condom each time you have sex. This includes oral sex, intercourse and any other sexual acts that give you potential contact with blood, vaginal fluid, pre-seminal fluid or semen. A dental dam should be used to keep vaginal fluids from going into the mucous membranes of the mouth. A female condom can be used when needed, and a new condom must be used for each sex act. Avoid condoms that contain spermicide.
Use Water-Based Lubricant
The Mayo Clinic recommends the use of water-based lubricant instead of oil-based lubricant during sexual activity, as oils can weaken the condom.
Avoid Aggressive Sexual Contact
Avoid aggressive sexual contact that can cause small tears in the vagina, anus or rectum; such tears give the virus an opening into the bloodstream. Aggressive sex is also more likely to rupture the condom.
Do Not Share Needles
Do not share needles with anyone, ever. This includes needles with illegal drug use and also the administration of prescription drugs at home. Do not engage in any activity that puts you in contact with someone else's blood.
Be Alert When Performing Health Care
Health care workers are in danger of contracting AIDS. To lower the risk, a health care worker should follow protocol when dealing with needles or other sharp instruments. She should also wear gloves, goggles, a mask and other protective gear when anticipating contact with blood or other bodily fluids. Caregivers in the home should also avoid contact with blood or bodily fluids of anyone who could have HIV/AIDS.
Avoid Sharing Personal Items
Avoid sharing items like toothbrushes and razors, as they can contain traces of blood. Do not use an item if you are not certain it is new or has been used only by you.
Seek Reputable Health and Personal Care
Seek reputable professionals for dental work, medical care, surgery, medical testing, hair cutting and tattooing. Your health is vulnerable unless workers use new disposable equipment and appropriately disinfect their tools.
Avoid Breast Milk
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, breast milk can contain HIV. You should not allow breast milk to come in contact with the mucous membranes of your mouth or any open sores.