6 ways you are putting yourself at risk of contracting HIV

Studies have shown that 3 out of 4 people who died from HIV in Nairobi, never knew their status.

3 out of 4 of this 15 percent have died from HIV completely unaware of their status which is very worrying.

These statistics are according to a Mortuary Surveillance report conducted in two public mortuaries in Nairobi – Kenyatta National Hospital and City Mortuary.

Kenya is one of the six ‘high burden’ countries in Africa; having a HIV prevalence rate of 6 percent; with over 1 million people living with HIV.

And with such worrying statistics comes a need for awareness on the ways that people put themselves at risk of contracting the HIV infection, and how to prevent contraction.

Over the years, the government has implemented a number of HIV prevention strategies that include HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC), condom use, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC), Post Exposure Prophylaxis, Behavior change programs among others.

Recently the government introduced a new HIV prevention strategy, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).  PrEP is a pill that is taken daily by people who are HIV negative but at a high risk of contracting HIV.

Here is how to know if you at risk of HIV infection and to consider PrEP as one of your HV prevention strategies

1. Having unprotected sex with persons of unknown HIV status

If you are HIV negative and having unprotected sex with a person(s) whose HIV status you do not know, then you are at risk of getting infected and should consider asking your provider about starting on PrEP.

You should also start using condoms immediately with your partner.

2. Frequent condom bursts when having sex with persons of unknown status

If you experience regular condom bursts when having sex with persons of unknown status, you could be at risk of HIV infection.  Regular condom bursts are mainly caused by incorrect use/ wearing of the condom, or using an expired condom etc.

If you experience condom bursts, you should get tested for HIV and if negative, consider starting to use PrEP to protect you from future incidents.  You can also ask you health provider to demonstrate to you the correct way to wear a condom.

3. Having multiple sexual partners

The more sexual partners you have, the more you put yourself at risk of contracting HIV – more so if you are unaware of your partner’s HIV status and you do not use condoms.

Sex is arguably perceived very differently these days with people being inclined towards having a ‘casual thing’ as compared to the more conservative nature it was perceived in the past – taking the campus lifestyle as an example where a lot of girls would be escorting their friends to the shops to get the morning after pill because they might have had an oops moment with their third casual thing last night – no judgment though.

4. Having Anal Sex

Anal sex has been known to be one of the highest-risk sexual behaviors for HIV transmission. It not only affects men but women as well. This is especially so if you are the receptive partner, and if it is done without the use of protection.

5. Engaging In Oral Sex With A HIV Positive Partner

One puts themselves at risk of contracting HIV especially if they have sores and cuts in their mouth and they give oral sex to a person of unknown HIV status.

6. If you have frequent and untreated STI’s or sexual contact with a partner that has been exposed to STI’s such as syphilis, Chlamydia and gonorrhea you are likely to be at risk of HIV infection.  These may cause a change in the tissue of the vagina or penis thus making it easier for the HIV virus to be transmitted during sex.

Quite scary, huh?

Research has shown that use of PrEP among people who are HIV negative has been successfully in preventing HIV infection.  So get to know your HIV status and understand your sexual risk so that you can plan on how to protect yourself from HIV infection.

Do you think that you’re at risk of contracting HIV? Find out more about PrEP, here, to stay protected.

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