FAQs

Q?

What role do men have to play in ensuring women have access to sexual and reproductive health and services?

A.

First, men must accept equal responsibility for outcomes around sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and support their partners and spouses in facilitating access to much-needed services.

Because men and boys typically have greater access to information, they must maximize the opportunities they have available to enhance their – and their partner’s – knowledge on SRH. They should also stand against conservative and restrictive practices that shame and blame girls and women if they experience an unwanted pregnancy or if they wish to avoid unwanted pregnancies. By shunning dated views that put undue blame on women, progressive and forward-looking men and boys can help challenge norms that further disadvantage and disempower women and girls. They can then work as a conduit that helps shape new norms that pave the way for increased access to SRH services for women and girls.

Q?

What is the correct way to use a condom?

A.

  • Store condoms in a cool place, out of direct sunlight. Check the expiration date on the condom wrapper or box. Condoms that are past their expiration date may break.
  • Open the package carefully. Teeth or fingernails can rip the condom

For latex male condoms:

  • Put on the condom after the penis is hard. If the penis is not circumcised, pull back the foreskin before putting on the condom.
  • Pinch the tip of the condom to leave a little space (about a half inch) at the top to catch semen. Unroll the condom all the way down the penis. Add a little bit of water-based lubricant to the outside of the condom.
  • After ejaculation, hold the rim of the condom and pull out the penis while it is still hard, so that no semen spills out.
  • Use a new condom every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

For female condoms:

  • Insert the female condom before you have any sexual contact.
  • Hold the female condom with the open end hanging down. Holding the outside of the condom, squeeze the inner ring with your thumb and middle finger. Put your index finger between your thumb and middle finger.
  • Still squeezing the inner ring, insert the condom into the vagina as far as it will go.
  • The inner ring holds the condom in place. The outer ring should be outside the vagina. Make sure the condom is not twisted.
  • During sex, the condom may move from side to side or up and down. As long as the penis is covered, this is all right. If the penis enters under or outside the condom, stop right away. If the outer ring gets pulled into the vagina, stop right away. Take out the condom and reinsert it.
  • After sex, just twist the outer ring to keep semen inside the condom and pull it out gently.
  • Use a new condom every time you have sex

Q?

Does male circumcision prevent HIV transmission?

A.

Male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by around 60%. Since 2007, WHO and UNAIDS have recommended voluntary medical male circumcision as an additional strategy for HIV prevention in settings with high HIV prevalence and low levels of male circumcision. Fourteen countries in eastern and southern Africa with this profile have initiated programmes to expand male circumcision.

A one-time intervention, medical male circumcision provides life-long partial protection against HIV as well as other sexually transmitted infections. It should always be considered as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention package and should never replace other known methods of prevention, such as female and male condoms.

Q?

How effective are condoms in preventing HIV?

A.

When used properly during every sexual intercourse, condoms are a proven means of preventing HIV infection in women and men. However, apart from abstinence, no protective method is 100% effective.

Q?

What other kinds of care do people living with HIV need?

A.

In addition to ART, people with HIV often need counselling and psychosocial support. Access to good nutrition, safe water and basic hygiene can also help an HIV-infected person maintain a high quality of life.

Q?

Who is at risk for getting HIV?

A.

A person of any age, sex, race, ethnic group, religion, economic background, or sexual orientation can get HIV.

Those who are most at risk are:

  • people who have “unprotected sex” with someone who has HIV. Unprotected sex means vaginal, anal, or oral sex without using a condom.
  • people who share needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs, steroids, or even vitamins or medicine with someone who has HIV.
  • Babies can potentially become infected during their mothers’ pregnancy, during delivery, or after birth in the immediate post-partum period. They can also become infected through breastfeeding.
  • Health care and maintenance workers who may be exposed to blood and/or body fluids at work sometimes get infected through on-the-job exposures like needle-stick injuries (see question 31).

Q?

How long can people live with HIV or AIDS?

A.

Medicines that fight HIV have helped many people with HIV and AIDS live years and even decades longer than was possible in the past, before effective treatment was available. HIV treatments are not a cure, and they do not work equally well for everyone, but they have extended the lives of many people with HIV and AIDS. Without treatment, some people live for just a few years after getting HIV. Others live much longer. Researchers are studying a small number of people with HIV who have not become ill for more than ten years, even without any HIV treatment. However, these people are still infected with HIV and can pass the virus to others.

Q?

Does everyone who is exposed to HIV get infected?

A.

No. But it is important to know that you can be infected by a single exposure to HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Whether a person becomes infected after being exposed to HIV depends on how the virus enters the body and the amount of virus that enters the body.

Q?

How is HIV spread during anal sex?

A.

Unprotected anal sex with a person who has HIV or whose HIV status you do not know is the highest-risk sexual activity for both men and women. The walls of the anus and rectum are thin and have many blood vessels that can be injured during anal sex. HIV-infected semen can be easily absorbed through these thin walls and into the bloodstream. Injured tissue in the anus and rectum can expose the penis to blood containing HIV. Using latex condoms for anal sex lowers HIV risk, but condoms fail more often during anal sex than during vaginal or oral sex. So, protected anal sex is still riskier than protected vaginal or oral sex.

Q?

How is HIV spread during oral sex?

A.

Although oral sex is less risky than anal or vaginal sex, it is possible to get HIV by performing oral sex on an HIV-infected partner. HIV transmission could potentially occur if blood, pre-ejaculation fluid, semen, or vaginal fluids enter open sores or cuts in or around the mouth, such as those caused by canker sores or blisters, vigorous teeth brushing or flossing, or some form of trauma. Using a latex barrier, like a condom or dental dam, reduces your risk of HIV infection.

Q?

Can I get HIV from a human bite?

A.

It is very unlikely that a person would get HIV from a human bite. HIV can only be passed in this manner through direct blood-to-blood contact and not by exchanging saliva. To pass the virus, the infected person would need to have blood in his or her mouth and break the skin of the other person. The break in the skin of the uninfected person could allow infected blood to enter his or her bloodstream. If a person who does not have HIV bites and breaks the skin of a person with HIV, transmission of the virus could only occur if the uninfected person has open sores or cuts in the mouth that allow for blood-to-blood contact.

Q?

What is the difference between anonymous and confidential testing?

A.

If you have a confidential HIV test, you will give your name and other identifying information (age, gender) to the test counselor, doctor, or other health care provider, and the test result will be put in your medical record. The names of people who test positive for HIV are given to the New York State Department of Health to help the department better respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State (see questions 88, 89). Information about your HIV status is given only to the New York State Department of Health and is kept confidential. The confidentiality of all HIV-related information is protected by New York State Public Health Law.

If you have an anonymous HIV test, you do not have to give your name or any other identifying information. Instead, you are given a code number, which you use to get your test results when you return to the testing site. An anonymous test result is not recorded in your medical record and is not sent to your doctor or to other health care providers. If you test positive for HIV at a site that provides anonymous testing, you can choose to give your name and change the test result to confidential – which allows you to get HIV-related medical care and support services (like housing assistance) without waiting for a second HIV test to confirm the result. The New York State and New York City HIV/AIDS Hotline numbers listed in the Resources section can help you find anonymous HIV counseling and testing clinics in your area.

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