Taking care of your genital and reproductive health is an important part of staying well. Our immune systems are most active in the areas where the outside world permeates our bodies – our mouths and in our female parts. That is why immune suppression increases the risk of gynaecological conditions and diseases.
Ask your male sex partner/s to either:
- Use condoms and lubricant (even if he also has HIV); and/or
- Have comprehensive sexual health check-ups and to treat any infections promptly as this is important for your sexual health.
Female sex partners can also transmit some infections such as the wart virusA small infective organism which is incapable of reproducing outside a host cell. (human papillomavirus or HPV which can lead to cervical cancer), thrush, bacterial vaginosis and herpes. Therefore sexual health screening, prompt treatment and always cleaning and covering sex toys is important.
- You need to have a Pap smear every 12 months to screen for precancerous changes in your cervix.
- If you have previously had an abnormal Pap smear, you need to have Pap smears every six months.
- Put a reliable system in place to remind you of when you are due for a Pap smear.
- You need to maintain your CD4 cell count above 200.
- Sexually transmissible infections (STIs[Sexually Transmissible (or Transmitted) Infection] Infections spread by the transfer of organisms from person to person during sexual contact. Also called venereal disease (VD) (an older public health term) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). ) are a threat to your reproductive health and can lead to serious consequences such as infertility and increase the transmissibility of HIV.
- Being tested and treated for STIs is an important way of staying well.
- Take charge of whether you want to use condoms and lubricant or other barriers to decrease the chances of getting a sexually transmissible infection.
Treat Yourself Right