How is HIV transmitted?


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2016-09-04 08:23:50
2016-09-04 08:23:50
Transmission of HIVThe most common ways that people become infected with HIV are:

* by having sexual intercourse with an infected partner

* by injecting drugs using a needle or syringe which has already been used by someone who is infected.

* by blood transfusions (it is a lower risk than in the past, but still a risk)

HIV can be passed on in these ways because the virus is present in the sexual fluids and blood of infected people. If infected blood or sexual fluid gets into your body, then you can become infected.But it depends on the type of body fluid. Saliva and sweat contain the HIV virus, but not in quantities sufficient for transmission.

Vaginal sex:HIV is found in the sexual fluids of an infected person. For a man, this means in the fluids which come out of the penis before and during sex. For a woman, it means HIV is in the fluids produced by the vagina before and during sex to help make intercourse easier.

If a man with HIV has vaginal intercourse without a condom, infected fluid can pass into the woman's blood stream through a tiny cut or sore inside her body. Such a cut or sore wouldn't always be visible, and could be so small that the woman wouldn't know about it.

If a woman with HIV has sexual intercourse without a condom, HIV could get into the man's blood through a sore patch on his penis or by getting into the tube that runs down the penis.

If there is any contact with blood during sex, this increases the risk of infection. For example, there may be blood in the vagina if intercourse occurs during a woman's period.

Oral sex:Oral sex with an infected partner does carry some risk of infection. If a person makes oral contact with the penis of an infected man, for example, infected fluid could get into the mouth. The virus could then get into the blood if you have bleeding gums or tiny sores or ulcers somewhere in the mouth.

The same is true if infected sexual fluids from a woman get into the mouth of her partner.

But infection from oral sex alone seems to be very rare, and there are things you can do to protect yourself.

Anal sex:If a couple has anal intercourse, the risk of infection is greater than with vaginal intercourse. The lining of the anal canal is more delicate than the lining of the vagina, so it's more likely to be damaged during intercourse, and any contact with blood during sex increases the risk of infection. Injecting drugs:There is a good likelihood of becoming infected with HIV if you share hypodermic needles with someone who has the virus. The virus can be passed by sharing needles, syringes, spoons, filters and water. Disinfecting equipment between use can reduce the chance of transmission, but doesn't eliminate it. Blood transfusions:Some people have been infected through a transfusion of infected blood. These days, in most countries all the blood used for transfusions is now tested for HIV. In those countries where the blood has been tested, HIV infection through blood transfusions is now extremely rare. Blood products:Blood products, such as those used by people with hemophilia, are now heat-treated to make them safe.

Mother to child transmission:

An infected pregnant woman can pass the virus on to her unborn baby either before or during birth. HIV can also be passed on during breastfeeding.

If a woman knows that she is infected with HIV, there are drugs that she can take to greatly reduce the chances of her child becoming infected.

Infection in the health-care setting:Some health-care workers have become infected with HIV by being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood. A very few have become infected by HIV-infected blood getting into the health-care worker's bloodstream through an open cut or splashes into a mucous membrane (e.g. eyes or the inside of the nose).

There have only been a few documented instances of patients becoming infected by a health-care worker.

Tattoos / piercings:Anything which allows another person's body fluids to get inside your body is risky. If the equipment is not sterile, having a tattoo done could carry a very small risk. If you are thinking of having a tattoo or piercing, ask staff at the shop what procedures they take to avoid infection.

In the UK, there are hygiene regulations governing people who do tattoos and piercings, and all instruments used should be sterile.

In the United States, it is advisable to contact your County Public Health Department or State Health Department to verify if a tattoo shop you are considering using has the proper licenses. Properly licensed tattoo shops have to comply with State and Federal laws regarding sanitization of equipment to ensure that disease is not spread.

You can't get AIDS from. . .

Kissing:At the moment, scientific opinion is pretty clear that you cannot become infected with HIV through kissing.

To become infected with HIV you must get a sufficient quantity of HIV into the bloodstream. Saliva does contain HIV, but the virus is only present in very small quantities and as such, cannot cause HIV infection.

Unless both partners have large open sores in their mouths, or severely bleeding gums, there is no transmission risk from mouth-to-mouth kissing.

Sneezing, coughing, sharing glasses/cups, etc:HIV is unable to reproduce outside its living host, except under very extreme laboratory conditions. HIV does not survive well in the open air, and this makes the possibility of this type of environmental transmission remote. In practice no environmental transmission has been seen.

This means that HIV cannot be transmitted through spitting, sneezing, sharing glasses or musical instruments.

You also can't be infected in swimming pools, showers or by sharing washing machines or toilet seats.

Insects:Studies conducted by many researchers have shown no evidence of HIV transmission through insects, even in areas where there are many cases of AIDS and large populations of insects such as mosquitoes. Lack of such outbreaks, despite considerable efforts to detect them, supports the conclusion that HIV is not transmitted by insects.

Also, HIV only lives for a short time and does not reproduce in an insect. So, even if the virus enters a mosquito or another sucking or biting insect, the insect does not become infected and therefore cannot transmit HIV to the next human it feeds on or bites.

Injecting with sterile needles:Drug use with sterile works will not transmit HIV either, as long as clean works are used every time - this means needle, syringe and spoon, water and filters. There are still many other risks associated with injecting drug use. And, if you are on drugs, even alcohol, this may cloud your judgment and make you more likely to become involved in risky sexual behavior - it's harder to make the effort to use a condom when you're off your head. Protected sex:If an unbroken latex condom is used, there is no risk of HIV transmission. There are myths saying that 'some very small viruses can pass through latex' - this is not true.

Anal sex is not necessarily a risk if unbroken condoms are used and there is no blood-to-blood contact. You can't 'create' HIV by having anal sex.

Here are more answers from WikiAnswers contributors:
  • During sexual intercourse or any other time when body fluids are exchanged.
  • I'm a social worker, not a physician. But the basics are: HIV can be transmitted in blood, semen, and I believe, pre-ejaculate. Tears and do not have enough virus in them to cause exposure. The exposure happens through transfusion of infected blood, or when a cut or tear in the skin or mucous membrane get covered with a fluid from an infected person.
  • By coming in contact with blood or certain other body fluids like semen. Saliva, urine, nasal mucus and tears do not contain large amounts of the virus. The blood needs to come in contact with an open cut or a mucous membrane to enter the body. The genitals and eyes are very permeable. So, it is one of the harder germs to catch, when you consider that you can catch the flu from someone ten feet away. But, since there is no cure, it isn't hard enough to catch for my taste. Hope this helps!
  • HIV can be transmitted through unprotected anal or vaginal sex, through any blood-to-blood contact (sharing of injecting equipment, use of infected blood products, needlestick injuries, occupational accidents amongst healthcare workers), vertically from mother-to-baby (during the course of pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding) or through semen-to-blood contact (engaging in oral sex when you have open sores in the mouth, or immediately after brushing your teeth).

Although sophisticated laboratory techniques are able to isolate the HIV virus from other body fluids of infected people (such as saliva and tears) the level of virus in these fluids is far too low to be considered infectious.

  • When the HIV virus enters a person's blood stream it is referred to as an infection, and this usually occurs by intimate contact. This can occur during sexual activity, both heterosexual and homosexual, because the HIV virus is present in both semen and vaginal secretions. It can also be transmitted during breastfeeding from an infected mother to her infant and also by blood to blood contact; most often this occurs when people share IV needles during drug use.

Other than that: Casual contact with other body fluids like sweat and saliva has not been shown to be an avenue of transmission.


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