The only way to know if you are living with HIV is to get tested. Free HIV testing is available at local health departments and certified HIV testing locations throughout the state.
Since no proven vaccine for HIV is available, the only way to prevent infection by the virus is to avoid behaviors that put a person at risk of infection, such as sharing needles and having unprotected sex.
Because many people infected with HIV have no symptoms, there is no way of knowing with certainty that a sexual partner is not infected unless he or she has tested negative for the virus after six months of abstaining from any risky behavior. It is recommended that people either abstain from sex or protect themselves by using barriers such as latex condoms, dental dams and female condoms whenever having oral, anal or vaginal sex. Water-based rather than oil based lubricants should be used with latex condoms.
In Maryland, all pregnant women who seek prenatal care must routinely receive counseling about HIV, and be offered voluntary HIV antibody testing. If a woman is considering pregnancy, she may want to be tested for HIV. The risk of HIV transmission from a pregnant woman to her fetus is significantly reduced if she takes antiretroviral medicine during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and her baby takes it for the first six weeks of life.
A personal prevention plan begins with learning your HIV status through counseling and testing.
The Maryland Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration works under a set of prevention goals and priorities to provide HIV prevention programs to local communities through local health departments and community based organizations.
Read more about HIV prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.htm.
If you cannot find the information on HIV/AIDS prevention, please call 1-800-358-9001.