Traditionally, ‘safe’ or ‘protected sex’ has been equated with the use of condoms. Condoms continue to be a cheap, readily accessible, safe and practical way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV and some other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
However, with advances in science and with increased understanding of HIV transmission, there are now a range of very effective strategies that people can use to reduce or eliminate the risk of HIV transmission. The five primary strategies used to prevent HIV transmission include:
- Condoms and water-based lube
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
- Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
- Treatment as Prevention (TasP)
- Safe Drug Use
The meaning of ‘protected sex’ is rapidly evolving to include TasP and PrEP. AFAO’s position is that it is no longer accurate to equate condomless sex with unprotected sex if PrEP or TasP are used. These technologies offer effective protection from HIV. People with HIV who take treatments and have an undetectable viral load are utilising an effective from of protection (TasP), as are HIV-negative people who are taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
There are also other risk reduction strategies that some people may choose to use to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV through sex. However, it is important to remember that these strategies may only reduce your risk slightly and are not considered particularly effective on their own. These risk reduction strategies include:
There is also more information about HIV prevention for gay men and other men who have sex with men in the Taking a Look website.