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Getting diagnosed with HIV: Protect others

for Veterans and the Public

Protect others

Once you have HIV, it is important that you take measures so you don't pass the virus to sex partners, to injecting drug partners, or (for women who wish to become pregnant) to a baby during pregnancy or delivery, or by breast-feeding. Starting and staying on HIV medications (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) is a hugely effective way to minimize the risk of transmitting the HIV virus. Using condoms and clean injection equipment also can prevent HIV from passing to other people and condoms can also protect you from getting other sexually transmitted diseases. Partners who do not have HIV also can use PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection.

Sometimes it can be difficult to explain that you have HIV to people you have had sex with or shared syringes with in the past. However, it is important that they know so they can get tested. If you need help telling people that you may have exposed them to HIV, many city or county health departments will tell them for you, without using your name. Ask your provider about this service.

Before telling your partner that you have HIV, take some time alone to think about how you want to bring up the subject.

  • Decide when and where would be the best time and place to have a conversation. Choose a time when you expect that you will both be comfortable, rested, and as relaxed as possible.
  • Think about how your partner may react to stressful situations. If there is a history of violence in your relationship, consider your safety first and plan the situation with a case manager or counselor.