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Risk Reduction

How to Reduce your Exposure to HIV/AIDS

In the field of public health, HIV risk reduction is an approach used to address and reduce the risks factors facing an individual, a family, a group, or a community through counseling and education.

HIV education and risk-reduction counseling are provided through various HIV testing programs.  HIV/AIDS education presentations to small groups can be coordinated through Michael Buitron, our Testing and Linkage to Care Coordinator.

Contact HIV Prevention Staff
(562) 624-4977

HIV Biology

The information being provided here is very general and limited, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for more authoritative and up-to-date information (

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infects a type of white blood cell (WBC). WBCs can be found in blood, which is why we tell people not to share needles if they inject and why the blood supply is screened for HIV. WBC can be found in breast milk, which is why we tell HIV-positive women not to breast feed. WBCs are also present in a woman's vaginaas a way to ward off infection and keep her healthy. That's why unprotected vaginal sex can be risky. A majority of a person's WBCs line the intestinal tract. They are there to keep bacteria from passing into the bloodstream. That's why anal sex is so risky. Other body fluids like urine, tears, sweat, and saliva don't contain WBCs, so we don't worry about those body fluids when it comes to HIV-transmission risk. 

There are other factors that can increase transmission risk. Drugs and alcohol can make people less cautious and engage in riskier behaviors. About half of new HIV infections are among people who have used crystal meth. STDs can increase the production of WBCs to fight off the infection, making it easier for a person with HIV to transmit the virus or make an HIV-negative person more vulnerable to infection. 

HIV Risk Reduction

There are things you can do to reduce the risk of transmission. If you are living with HIV, the best way to protect your partners is to visit your doctor regularly and take your medication every day. If you're HIV negative, and at-risk for HIV, consider taking PrEP. Getting testing regularly for HIV and STDs can reduce the risk of transmission, and keep you from passing HIV along to others.

For both HIV-positive and negative persons, reducing the number of people you have sex with can reduce the chances of getting another STD. Using a condom can reduce the risk of transmission, as can substituting lower risk sexual activities for higher-risk penetrative sex.

And of course abstaining from all sexual activity will eliminate the risk of sexual exposure to HIV.


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