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Having Multiple Sexual Partners ?

What is having multiple sexual partners?

This can refer to situations where one or both partners have sex with other people, or when one person is not in a monogamous relationship and has more than one sexual partner.

What we know about having multiple sexual partners:

STDs spread rapidly in populations where people have multiple partners who overlap in time. This happens because a newly infected person can transmit an STD to more than one uninfected partner while the newly infected person is the most infectious.

What you can do

Not having sex is the best way to prevent getting or transmitting HIV. If you are sexually active, you can choose to have fewer partners in the future. You can also choose sexual activities that are lower risk for HIV than anal or vaginal sex.

A monogamous relationship, which means that both you and your partner are having sex only with each other, can also reduce your risk of infection. + You can do other things to reduce your HIV risk, including using a condom the right way every time you have sex and taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. +

Monogamy only reduces your risk of getting HIV if both partners are certain that they're HIV-negative and stay monogamous. You may not always know if your partner is having sex with other people or engaging in other behaviors that increase the risk for getting HIV or other STDs. Having open and honest communication with your partner is important. Talk to your partner about your decision to be monogamous and what you would do if one of you had sex with another person. Be sure you and your partner understand any agreements you have about sex and communicate about any changes in your HIV status or sexual activity.

And, if you're just beginning a monogamous relationship, it's a good idea for both of you to get tested for HIV before you have sex.

Even though it may be difficult, you can learn how to talk with your partner about condoms and safer sex.

Talking openly and frequently with your partner about sex can help you make decisions that may decrease your risk of getting or transmitting HIV. Learn more about how to get the conversation started. +

  • When was the last time you had an HIV test and what was the result of that test?

    The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Before having sex for the first time, you and your partner may want to get tested for HIV and learn the results. Be aware that there's a window period, which is the time between when a person gets HIV and when most HIV tests will show that a person has it. If you have sex before you learn your test results, using a condom the right way every time you have sex can lower your risk for getting or transmitting HIV.

    If you learn that you have HIV, the most important thing you can do is to take antiretroviral therapy (ART) the right way, every day. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they've had the virus or how healthy they are. Being on ART and taking it the right way, every day lowers the amount of HIV (viral load) in your body. If your ART is working, you can stay healthy for many years, and greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to someone who is HIV-negative.
  • Are you HIV-positive and on treatment?

    If you're HIV-positive, the most important thing you can do is being on treatment. Being on effective treatment lowers your viral load and reduces your chances of transmitting HIV to someone who is HIV-negative. If you're taking ART, follow your health care provider's advice. Visit your health care provider regularly and take your medicine the right way, every day. This will give you the greatest chance of having an undetectable viral load. If you have an HIV-positive partner, encourage your partner to take ART too.

    If you're HIV-negative and have an HIV-positive partner who is taking ART, your partner is much less likely to transmit HIV to you if they have a very low or undetectable viral load. You can also take PrEP daily to lower your chance of getting HIV even more. Talk to your health care provider to see if PrEP is right for you. If you're not taking PrEP, you can take post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you have a recent possible exposure to HIV. To work, PEP must begin as soon as possible, and always within 72 hours of a recent possible exposure.
  • How many other sexual partners do you currently have?

    Having multiple sexual partners increases your risk for HIV.
  • Do you have any other STDs?

  • Do you use needles to inject drugs?

    Using needles to inject drugs increases your risk for HIV.