Safer Sex

Why is safer sex important to living positively with HIV?

  • So HIV is not spread to a person’s partner(s)
  • So PLHIV do not expose themselves or their partner(s) to STIs
  • So PLHIV or their partner(s) do not have an unintended pregnancy
  • So PLHIV do not expose themselves or their partner(s) to new, more harmful strains of HIV 

Ways to practice safer sex:

  • Use a condom for all kinds of sex (vaginal, anal, oral).
  • Reduce the number of partners and use condoms all the time.
  • We know that HIV is often transmitted between regular partners. If both partners have not been tested, then it is safest to use condoms – in both regular and casual partnerships.
  • Stay in a relationship where both partners have been tested for HIV and are faithful to one another.
  • Masturbate (alone or together).
  • Replace risky practices (such as sex without condoms) with safer practices, like touching, massage, kissing and hugging.
  • Do not put products or herbs in the vagina before sex.
  • Do not have sex if you or your partner have an STI or any kind of sore in the genital area.
  • Take all medicines (such as for STI treatment or ART) as prescribed by the doctor or nurse.
  • If possible, avoid sex while you or your partner has her period (is menstruating). If you do have sex during menstruation, try to use condoms.
  • Do not have sex at all.
  • Never force another person to have sex.


  1. The Comprehensive Peer Educator Training Curriculum: Trainer Manual International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, Columbia University