What You Need To Know

two men possibly lovers.

Preventing the transmission of STIs and HIV is about knowing the risks, and taking responsibility for minimising the risks through safer practices.

This can mean practising safer sex to reduce the risk of STI and HIV transmission, or safer injecting practices to reduce the risk of HIV or Hepatitis C transmission.

Practising safer sex is not just about using condoms.  If you are sexually active, particularly with short–term partners, it is recommended that you get tested for STIs regularly. You can find an STI testing clinic near you here.

It’s important to consider also that alcohol and drug use can influence your ability to make responsible decisions about your sexual health.

There are many ways to reduce the risks:

  • Consistent condom use, particularly when changing partners: Used correctly, condoms can prevent transmission of most sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV. Always use condoms correctly during anal, oral, and vaginal sex to reduce the risk of STIs, including HIV. You can find out where to access condoms at our Free Condoms and Lube Page.
  • Regular testing: Maintaining a proactive approach to your sexual health involves regular testing for STIs, including HIV. By getting tested regularly, you ensure early detection of infections and enable prompt treatment. Accessing STI testing has become more convenient than ever before. Explore a range of testing options, including home testing, rapid testing, and in-clinic testing, by visiting our Testing Page. Stay informed, take control of your sexual health, and make testing a regular part of your well-being routine.
  • Vaccinations: If you are a gay, bisexual or man who has sex with men (gbMSM), it is recommended by the National Immunisation Committee (NIAC) that you are vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV (human papillomavirus) and mpox. Visit our Vaccines Page to find out more about vaccines and how to get them. To book your mpox vaccine visit the HSE mpox page here.
  • Consider PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis): If you are at a higher risk of contracting HIV, consider discussing PrEP with your healthcare provider. PrEP is a medication that, when taken as prescribed, can significantly reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Learn more about PrEP and how to access it
  • Consider PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis): PEP can prevent possible HIV infection if you have had condomless sex, or if a condom has split or slipped off and you do not know the HIV status of your sexual partner. If you are on PrEP and have missed doses, you might need to take PEP. PEP is a 28-day course of tablets that must be started within 72 hours (3 days and 3 nights) of the possible exposure to HIV. Learn more about PEP and where and how to access it.
  • Open Communication and Disclosure: Openly communicate with your sexual partners about your sexual health and any potential STI risks. Practice mutual disclosure to ensure informed decision-making and promote a culture of trust and respect.
  • Mental and emotional well-being: Take care of your mental and emotional health by seeking support when needed. Engage in self-care practices, maintain healthy relationships, and address any concerns that may impact your overall well-being. Visit our Mental Health and Wellbeing page for advice and a list of support services available to you.
  • Safer Drug Use Practices: If you engage in drug use, prioritise your safety by never sharing any drug-related equipment. Refer to our section on Drugs and Alcohol which offers harm-reduction advice and tips and provides links to support services and other resources such as MPOWER’s Sex Part First Aid Guide
  • Education and awareness: Stay informed about sexual health topics, including STIs, by accessing credible sources of information. The more you know, the better equipped you are to make informed decisions and protect your health. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on the latest sexual health news, events, and resources. We provide valuable insights, tips, and reminders to help you stay on top of your sexual health.

Remember, sexual health is an ongoing journey, and it’s important to prioritise your well-being and that of your partners. Regular testing, open communication, and adopting preventive measures contribute to a safer and healthier sexual experience.