Practicing safe sex means taking steps to reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS). HIV and other STIs can be spread through unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse, or through oral sex.
YOUR RISK OF GETTING
Using condoms is especially important if you have more than one sexual partner and/or if you frequently have short-term sexual relationships. To be effective, condoms must be put on or inserted correctly. It also is important to make sure that the male condom does not slip off or that the female condom does not slip out. Follow the directions about condom use from your healthcare provider and from the instructions in the manufacturer’s package.
A male and female partner should not each use a condom. Also, never use a condom for more than one act of sex.
Your risk of getting an STI is a lot higher if you and/or your partner(s) are having sex with others. To be sure that neither of you is infected, both you and your partner should get tested for HIV and other STIs and share the results with each other.
Abstinence offers complete protection against pregnancy and STIs. The decision not to have sex is a personal one that requires commitment from both partners. Decide ahead of time how you will practice safe sex and prevent pregnancy when you are ready to begin having sex.
Vaccines are available to help protect against HPV and hepatitis B that can be spread through sexual contact. All preteen girls and boys should receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, when the immune response to the vaccine is strong, before they become sexually active.
In the United States, hepatitis B vaccine is given routinely to young children. The vaccine also should be given to any adolescent or adult who never received it or did not receive all of the recommended doses.