HIV is only spread in certain ways and you cannot get it through casual contact. You can reduce your risk if you:
- Do not have sexual intercourse
- Remain faithful to your spouse or partner and are sure that he or she is faithful to you
- Consistently use male latex or female polyurethane condoms
- Do not share needles
Unlike many other infections, like measles and polio, there is not a vaccine for HIV yet.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases has more general information about how to prevent the spread of HIV.
Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission
Without any interventions, a newborn is at high risk of getting HIV from its infected mother. Specifically:
- The risk is between 15% and 30% without breastfeeding.
- The risk can go up to 45% if the mother breastfeeds her child for a long time.
Prevention strategies can reduce this risk to less than 2%. If you are a pregnant woman concerned about HIV, experts recommend that you take these steps:
- Get an HIV test. You can only prevent HIV transmission if you know you have it.
- Receive anti-HIV drugs for yourself and your child. You should take anti-HIV drugs during pregnancy, labor, and birth, and your child should take them after its birth.
- Avoid breastfeeding. HIV can pass from you to your child through your breast milk. If you live in the United States or another country with safe water, formula is best for prevention of HIV.
NICHD has been heavily involved in reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Read about some of its research advances in this area through the links on the Publications and Resources page.
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