The right to know

Stay safe

Image de l'UNICEF
© HQ01-0191/Pirozzi
In Botswana, a group of young people perform in a play on HIV/AIDS awareness on the street of Gaborone.

There is no cure for AIDS, but there are effective methods for preventing yourself from becoming infected with HIV. Simply remember the 'ABC of prevention.' AIDS is 100 per cent preventable, but you have to take action to protect yourself and your friends.

A = Abstinence

Abstinence means not having sex of any kind. This is the only way to be 100 per cent sure that you will not get HIV, another sexually-transmitted infection or become pregnant. There are other sexual activities that are completely safe and will not put you at risk. These include kissing, cuddling, massaging and mutual masturbation (touching each other's sexual parts but avoid getting any sexual fluid on broken skin).

B = Being Faithful

When you feel you are ready for sex, be faithful to your sexual partner. By reducing the number of people you have sex with, you reduce the likelihood of becoming infected with HIV. It is best to be in a mutually monogamous (you and your partner only have sex with each other) sexual relationship with someone who is not infected with HIV.

This requires that both of you get tested before you have sex together. You should be careful of situations where someone is faithful to their partner but has previously had many short relationships and therefore has had many different sexual partners. Although this person is faithful during their relationship, they may have been exposed to a sexually-transmitted infection from one of their previous partners.

C = Condoms

Use condoms and practice safer sex. While abstinence is the most effective way to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, consistent and correct use of latex or plastic condoms greatly lowers the risk of HIV transmission. 

D = Don't share needles

HIV can be transmitted between injecting drug users if the drug equipment, such as needles, syringes or rinsing water, is contaminated by HIV-infected fluids (usually blood) and is then reused by another person without first sterilizing it. Approximately 10 per cent of new infections worldwide result from the sharing of drug use paraphernalia. Everywhere in the world, drug use is also associated with heightened sexual transmission of HIV.