HIV Transmission: How do you contract HIV?

How do you contract HIV poster

There are 5 fluids that transmit the HIV virus.

1. Blood
2. Semen
3. Vaginal Fluids
4. Breast Milk
5. Anal Fluids

There are no other body fluids that transmit HIV. That’s why all casual contact is safe. People cannot contract HIV from toilet seats, hugging/casually kissing someone with HIV, or sharing eating utensils, keyboards, phones, office spaces etc. with someone who is HIV positive. There are very specific things people have to do to contract HIV. What are those?

In order for HIV transmission to occur, the following must be true.

  1. HIV must be present in the fluid (has to be one of those 5 fluids listed above).
  2. Enough HIV must be present in the fluid.
  3. The HIV infected fluid must get into the bloodstream through a cut, sore, or mucous membrane. Mucous membranes are linings that coat parts of the body: the eyes, nose, mouth, vagina, anus, or penis.

How does this happen?

Most common ways HIV is transmitted:

  1. Unprotected anal, vaginal, or oral sex with someone who has HIV.
  2. Sharing needles or “works” (injection drug use equipment) with someone who has HIV for drug use, tattooing, or piercing.
  3. From an HIV infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth, or when breastfeeding.

Less common ways HIV is transmitted:

  1. Health care workers can become infected through needle sticks or blood splashes into cuts or mucous membranes like the eyes or nose.
  2. Blood transfusion – rare in the USA at this point. This is more common in countries that don’t have ways to test the blood supply or screen donors.
  3. The CDC has only ever identified one transmission through deep, open mouth kissing – and it was because both parties had poor oral hygiene (likely blood to blood contact). This is extremely rare and deep kissing should be considered a lower risk activity.
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