HIV is a virus transmitted from person to person, mainly through unprotected sex or sharing drug use equipment. It can also be transmitted during pregnancy, labour or breastfeeding. HIV is not passed through casual contact like hugging, holding hands, or spending time with someone who has HIV. Understanding HIV transmission can help you understand and reduce your risk through drug use or sex (including the potential risk of re-exposure to HIV), along with other sexually transmitted infections.
Body fluids with high concentration of HIV
entry to bloodstream
risk of infection.
Reduce your risks by interrupting this equation.
1. Body Fluids with high concentration of HIV
If a person is infected with HIV, certain body fluids contain high concentration (amounts) of the virus. These body fluids are:
2. Risky activities
HIV can be transmitted during activities where body fluids are exchanged and there is an entry point to the bloodstream (see point 3). Most commonly, these are:
3. Entry point to the blood stream
Infectious body fluids and risky activities can provide access to these entry points:
If you reduce the risk of what you do, you reduce the risk of transmission. Safer sex reduces your risks of sexual exposure. Using a male or female condom for vaginal and anal intercourse reduces your risks of exposure to all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. For oral sex, use a condom or a dental dam.
Using drugs on a regular basis or recreationally can affect your judgment about safe situations. Sharing equipment (needles, cookers, pipes, cotton) can put you at risk not only for HIV, but also for Hepatitis C. Keep your own stuff just for your use if you can. Use a needle exchange where possible.