HIV prevention and treatment

Protecting yourself against HIV

You can protect yourself against HIV and other STIs through practicing safe sex.

The below are examples of safe sex:

  • Kissing and touching each other with the hands.
  • Anal and vaginal sex with a condom and a water or silicone based lubricant. 
  • Oral sex using a condom or dental dam. Although the HIV risk in oral sex is very small, there is a small risk for the person who receives pre-ejaculation fluid, semen or vaginal fluids in their mouth. You can reduce your risk by avoid receiving fluids in your mouth. Other STIs are transmitted easily in oral sex and can spread to both parties.

In safe sex pre-ejaculation fluid, semen, vaginal fluids or blood does not touch your partners mucous membranes. Using a condom effectively protects against HIV and other STIs in all types of sex.

A person living with HIV who is on effective medication is not infectious and therefore does not transmit HIV in unprotected sex.

The below video shows how to correctly use a condom.

 

HIV Treatment

In Finland, the treatment and care of HIV patients is conducted within special health care. The place for treatment is determined based on where the person with HIV lives. When the HIV infection is diagnosed, the person is given a referral to special health care. Special health care involves the necessary lab tests, meeting with an infection disease specialist and possibly starting medical treatment. The treatment is monitored through regular lab tests as well as appointments with nurses and doctors.

The medical treatment of HIV is based on antiretroviral medication, which usually contains three different kinds of virus medications. Nowadays, an HIV infection is, in practice, a chronic disease that requires treatment and monitoring. The medications slow down the reproduction of the virus and prevents healthy cells from getting infected. The body’s lowered immune system is normalised and the progress of the disease is stopped. Research has shown that when a person takes their HIV medication every day and the medication works, HIV does not spread in unprotected sex.

Thanks to the current forms of treatment, even the amount of virus in people who have progressed to the AIDS stage can be considerably lowered and the related diseases can be treated effectively. With the help of treatment, the person’s lifespan is prolonged and the quality of life is improved.  People living with HIV can live wholesome, regular lives. However, with the medication currently in use, the virus cannot be completely abolished from the body.