If you’re sexually active, it’s vital to take precautions to avoid contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Fellowship-trained urologist and sexual medicine specialist Dr. Joshua Gonzalez provides HIV and STI prevention solutions to protect you, reducing the risk of contracting or spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Schedule an evaluation at Joshua R. Gonzalez, MD, in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, by phone or request one online today.

request an appointment

HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention with Dr. Gonzalez involves strategies that reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease or STI. These diseases are caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses that can spread from person to person during sexual contact. Some STIs are curable, while others (including HIV) are not but can be managed to prevent spreading them to others.

When not treated, HIV weakens the immune system and increases the risk of contracting other STIs, such as genital herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), trichomoniasis, and hepatitis A, B, and C.

How do HIV and STIs spread?

HIV and other STIs pass from an infected person to their partner through vaginal secretions, semen, blood, or other bodily fluids. These infections can also spread to infants from their mothers during pregnancy or childbirth and via shared needles or blood transfusions.

Which symptoms can HIV and STIs cause?

Symptoms of STIs include:

  • Genital or rectal sores, lumps, bumps, or warts
  • Discharge from penis
  • Burning or painful urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Odorous vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Rash on the hands, feet, or trunk
  • Swollen or sore lymph nodes
  • Cervical or rectal cancers

Symptoms associated with HIV specifically include a fever, headaches, muscle aches, joint pain, a rash, and painful mouth sores. You might develop swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, diarrhea, oral yeast infections, or shingles.

If left untreated, HIV can worsen and progress to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition characterized by a very damaged immune system. You might experience frequent infections, chills, sweats, a recurring fever, rapid weight loss, weakness, and chronic fatigue.

Symptoms might appear within a few days, weeks, months, or even years after being exposed to HIV or another STI. However, these diseases don’t always cause noticeable symptoms.

What does HIV and STI prevention include?

Dr. Gonzalez develops a plan to protect you against contracting HIV and other STIs. Examples include:

  • Using a condom or dental dam during sex
  • Having just one mutually monogamous partner
  • Undergoing STI testing before being sexually active with a partner
  • Avoiding sexual activity altogether
  • Not using drugs or drinking alcohol before having sex
  • Not sharing needles
  • Getting vaccinated for certain STIs
  • Being circumcised (men)
  • Taking medications that reduce the risk of HIV infection (if your risk is high)

STI testing consists of blood testing, urine tests, or fluid swabs from open sores.

If you have HIV or another STI, treating your condition with medications may cure it or reduce the risk of spreading your disease to someone else, a key element of STI prevention with Dr. Gonzalez. You might take antibiotics for a specified time or antiviral drugs, which may be required daily.

Schedule an evaluation at Joshua R. Gonzalez, MD, by calling his office or using the online booking feature today.


Sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic

HIV/AIDS – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic