How Disease Is Spread
Diseases can be spread from person to person in a number of ways:
- Contact spread some diseases are spread directly from person to person, for example during kissing, or indirectly when you touch a contaminated surface or object.
- Droplet spread infected droplets from the nose and throat can usually travel around one metre before they drop onto a surface. Sometimes infected droplets can also linger in the air. Infection occurs when the infected droplet is inhaled or someone comes into contact with a contaminated surface or object.
- Airborne spread some infected particlesfrom the nose and throat can remain in the air for a long time because of their tiny size. They are called droplet nuclei and can be inhaled directly into the lungs.
How Is Hiv Spread Through Blood
You can become infected if you have contact with the blood of someone who has HIV. Blood-borne infection with HIV can occur through:
- sharing injection equipment when using drugs
- getting tattoos or body piercings with unsterilized needles
- accidental needle sticks
- splashing blood in your eyes
HIV is NOT spread by blood passed through insect bites.
If you inject drugs, the best thing to do is to use new or sterilized injection equipment every time. You can also take a daily medication called pre-exposure prophylaxis to lower your risk of HIV. Learn more about PrEP.
Is It True That Gay Men Are More At Risk For Hiv Than Other People
Although anyone can be at risk for HIV, some people can be more at risk depending upon the types of sexual practices and drug use they are engaging in. Being gay does not necessarily mean you are at higher risk, but certain activities gay men sometimes participate in might put them at greater risk. Overall, the gay male population in Canada has higher rates of HIV infection than some other populations. Stigma and homophobia can affect a person’s ability to access information about safer sex specifically for gay men.
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Effective Barriers Against Hiv
There are many effective barriers that prevent infection.
Skin: Skin is an excellent barrier against HIV, unless there is an open cut or open wound. Infectious fluid on skin is NOT a route for infection.
Mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and stomach: These membranes are good barriers against HIV infection, so long as there are not cuts, ulcers or sores.
Saliva: Saliva contains proteins and a low salt content that actively reduce its infectiousness. Even when HIV is detected there is too little to cause infection. HIV is not transmitted by kissing including deep kissing. Spit cannot transmit HIV.
Air: HIV is not transmitted by air.
Latex and rubber: Condoms prevent infection from HIV and many other sexually transmitted infections.
Many sexual situations have no risk of transmitting HIV.
These include masturbation , kissing and deep kissing, receiving oral sex and vaginal or anal sex using a condom correctly.
Hiv Cant Be Transmitted Through Oral Sex
While the risk of infection might be lower when you have oral sex, the possibility is still there. Your risk is especially high if you or your partner have open sores or cuts on your genitals or mouth, bleeding gums, or if broken skin comes into direct contact with semen, according to the AIDS Action Committee.
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Low/no Risk Sexual Practices
There are a number of sexual practices that present no or low risk for HIV transmission that you and a partners can enjoy. These include the following:
Massage and rubbing bodies against each other presents no risk of passing on HIV.
RimmingYou cannot acquire or pass on HIV by rimming . However, hepatitis A and gut infections such as shigella are easily passed on this way.
KissingSaliva does not transmit HIV meaning kissing is completely safe.
WatersportsThe terms watersports and piss-play refer to sexual acts involving urine. HIV is not present in urine so watersports carry no risk of HIV transmission.
Oral sexOral sex carries a very small risk for HIV transmission. For more detailed information, check out our Oral Sex page.
FingeringPlaying with someones arse or vagina with your fingers is a low risk activity for passing on HIV. However, trimmed fingernails and thorough hand washing is a good idea to help prevent damage to the wall of the anus or vagina and to lessen the risk of passing or acquiring a sexually transmitted infection .
FistingFisting means inserting your fist in someones arse or vagina. Fists can create serious cuts in the lining of the arse or vagina, which can allow HIV to be passed on if the person being fisted is then fucked without a condom. The person doing the fisting could also get HIV if they have any cuts or scratches. Latex gloves are important for protecting both participants. Surgical gloves are best.
Myth : Hiv Can Be Transmitted Through Oral Sex
OK, theres a teensy bit of truth behind this myth, but the chances of getting HIV by going down on someone are so low that the risk almost doesnt exist.
According to a 2013 research review, the risk of transmitting HIV through oral sex without a condom or other barrier method is about 0.04 percent.
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Myth : Abstinence And Condoms Are The Only Ways To Prevent Hiv
Abstinence was touted as a go-to way to prevent HIV transmission back in the 80s and 90s. And even today, that potential benefit is used as an argument for abstinence-only sex ed in schools, despite lots of evidence that those programs just dont work.
Not into the idea of a no-sex lifestyle? Condoms are another option. Research suggests they can reduce the risk of HIV transmission by as much as 95 percent every time you do the deed. Thats why condoms have been recommended as an HIV prevention tool for decades.
However, as of 2012, people got a new option for preventing HIV. Thats when the Food and Drug Administration OKd the first pre-exposure prophylaxis .
These meds offer people with known risk factors, like having sex with someone who has HIV or sharing needles for injectable drug use, a way to reduce their risk of contracting HIV by taking one pill per day.
And it works really well. When PrEP is taken as prescribed, it can slash a persons chances of getting HIV through sex by a whopping 99 percent, according to the CDC.
Can Kissing An Hiv Positive Person Cause An Hiv Infection
No, a person cannot spread HIV through kissing. Although HIV can be present in very small amounts in saliva, there are proteins and enzymes found naturally in saliva which reduce the infectiousness of HIV, making it impossible for the virus to spread through kissing.
HIV can only survive in certain body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, anal mucous and breast milk – HIV spreads through the exchange of these bodily fluids. Sexual intercourse, including oral and anal sex, without the use of a condom is the most common way that HIV spreads. HIV can also spread by sharing needles with someone who is infected with the virus, and very rarely it can be passed from an HIV positive pregnant woman to her unborn baby.
If you think you may have been exposed to HIV in the last three days, you should contact our local sexual health clinic immediately to get PEP, that can prevent infection even after exposure, if taken within 72 hours. If you believe the exposure might have happened earlier, make sure to consider the window period before taking an HIV test.
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How Could You Get Hiv From Contact With Blood
The risk of HIV transmission through blood comes when the person has a detectable viral load and their blood enters another persons body or comes into contact with a mucous membrane. These are parts of the body with wet, absorbent skin such as the:
- inside of the anus
Theres also a risk if blood from a person who has a detectable viral load comes into contact with a cut or broken skin, giving HIV a way through the skin and into someones bloodstream. If blood gets onto skin that isnt broken, there is no risk.
In a medical setting, its possible for HIV to be transmitted by someone accidentally cutting themselves with a blade or needle they have used to treat a person living with HIV.
This is called a needlestick injury. The risk of being infected in this way is very low. However, if someone thinks they have been exposed to HIV through a needlestick injury, post-exposure prophylaxis may be an option.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hiv/aids
HIV can be detected in several fluids and tissue of a person living with HIV. It is important to understand however, that finding a small amount of HIV in a body fluid or tissue does not mean that HIV is transmitted by that body fluid or tissue. Only specific fluids from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These specific fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the blood-stream for transmission to possibly occur.
In the United States, HIV is most commonly transmitted through specific sexual behaviors or sharing needles with an infected person. It is less common for HIV to be transmitted through oral sex or for an HIV-infected woman to pass the virus to her baby before or during childbirth or after birth through breastfeeding or by prechewing food for her infant. In the United States, it is also possible to acquire HIV through exposure to infected blood, transfusions of infected blood, blood products, or organ transplantation, though this risk is extremely remote due to rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs.
For more information, see: How safe is the blood supply in the United States?
For more information on latex condoms, see “Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.”
In women, the lining of the vagina can sometimes tear and possibly allow HIV to enter the body. HIV can also be directly absorbed through the mucous membranes that line the vagina and cervix.
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Passionate Kisses Have Health Benefits
Its not all doom and gloom. Research into passionate kissing has uncovered many valuable health benefits, including:
- Emotional bonding kissing your partner is a fun, pleasurable and important part of physical intimacy and helps maintain a sense of togetherness and love.
- Stress reduction kissing your partner, either tenderly or passionately, releases calming brain chemicals that reduce stress levels and soothe the mind.
- Foreplay deep kissing your partner can lead to sexual intercourse. Various studies show that sex enhances a persons physical and mental health. For example, regular sex is protective against stress and depression.
- Metabolic boost kissing burns kilojoules. The more passionate the kiss, the greater the metabolic boost.
- Healthier mouth saliva contains substances that fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. Deep kissing increases the flow of saliva, which helps to keep the mouth, teeth and gums healthy.
- Increased immunity exposure to germs that inhabit your partners mouth strengthens your immune system.
How Long Can Hiv Survive Outside The Human Body
Generally the fragile nature of the virus prevents it from surviving for a substantial amount of time in the open air. The length of time HIV can survive outside the body is dependent on the amount of HIV present in the body fluid and the conditions the fluid is subjected to.
Note that HIV is fragile and many common substances such as hot liquid, soap, bleach, alcohol, and the gastric juices found within your stomach can destroy the virus.
Your skin is a 100% proof barrier against HIV. The virus cannot enter your skin unless there is an open bleeding wound. If you get blood on your skin, simply wash with water and soap. There is no need to scrub because this might damage the skin.
It is good practice to be careful with any blood spill, because one can never tell if the person it came from has HIV or other blood borne infections. You can safely clean such blood spills with water and Clorox.
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Am I At Higher Risk If I Have Sex With A Member Of The Same Sex
HIV is transmitted sexually regardless of your sexual preference. Note however, that worldwide there is a higher prevalence of the virus in certain groups because of their sexual practices and therefore having unsafe sex with someone from one of these groups places you at a higher risk of contracting the virus. Men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers, and people who have a sexually transmitted infection are examples of such groups.
Can You Get Hiv From A Blood Transfusion
Receiving a blood transfusion or other products made from blood is safe in the UK as all blood products have been screened for infections such as HIV since 1985.
In countries that dont have strict checks on the safety of their blood supply, receiving contaminated blood can pass the virus on. This can also happen in countries that dont screen other blood products, organs or sperm.
Giving blood has never been a risk.
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Hiv Can Be Transmitted Through Kissing
At the start of the HIV epidemic, people with the virus faced discrimination and subjugation wherever they went. Little was known about the virus that was ravaging the LGBT+ community, and many assumed it could be passed on through kissing or touching.
Today, we know that this is not the case but the message hasnt yet gotten through to everyone. A 2018 survey from HIV Scotland found that 21 per cent of people still believe HIV can be transmitted through kissing or saliva exchanges, while 14 per cent said the virus could be transmitted through coughing, sneezing and spitting.
HIV can be transmitted through condomless sex, but not through kissing. This myth urgently needs to be consigned to the scrap heap in 2020.
Can I Get Hiv From A Mosquito
No, it is not possible to get HIV from mosquitoes or other biting and bloodsucking insects. The results of experiments and observations of insect biting behavior indicate that when an insect bites a person, it does not inject its own or a previously bitten person’s or animal’s blood into the next person bitten. Rather, it injects saliva, which acts as a lubricant so the insect can feed efficiently.
Diseases, such as yellow fever and malaria are transmitted through the saliva of specific species of mosquitoes. However, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect. Unlike organisms that are transmitted via insect bites, HIV does not reproduce in insects. Thus, even if the virus enters a mosquito or another insect, the insect does not become infected and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it bites.
There are several reasons why a mosquito or other insect cannot transmit HIV from one person to another even if there is HIV-infected blood left on its mouth parts: 1) Infected people do not have constantly high levels of HIV in their blood streams. 2) Insect mouth parts retain no blood on their surfaces. 3) Finally, scientists who study insects have determined that biting insects normally do not travel from one person to the next immediately after ingesting blood. Rather, they fly to a resting place to digest the blood meal. Epidemiological studies have shown no relationship at all between HIV and the existence of mosquitos or mosquito bites.
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Can Sharing Dishes Or Drinking Glasses Spread Hiv
Dr. Flash clears up how HIV is and is NOT spread.
You cannot get HIV through casual contact like sharing dishes or drinking glasses, toilet seats, or holding hands. HIV is also not spread through sweat, tears, saliva, or kissing.
The most common way HIV is spread is through unprotected sex with someone with HIV who is not aware of their status or not on antiretrovirals . Unprotected here refers to sex without condoms or the use of medications that reduce the risk of passing HIV from one person to another. HIV can also be transmitted by sharing needles.
#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than AIDS featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decision.
While we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the information reflects the most up-to-date research. Also, please note the views expressed by individuals who appear in Greater Than AIDS videos and other content are their own and are not made on behalf of any groups/organizations/associations.
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Can I Infect My Unborn Child If I Am Positive
Women with HIV can transmit the virus to their fetus. However, the use of special drugs, during pregnancy and at birth, can help reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
For this reason it is important that every pregnant woman takes an HIV antibody-test. Medicines that reduce the chance of infection for the child are available for all pregnant women that are HIV infected and live on St. Maarten. It does not matter if you are insured, non-insured, legal or illegal on the island. Sometimes it is advised to repeat this test later during the pregnancy. Steps to prevent HIV transmission to the baby can be taken even if very late in the pregnancy.
For additional information you can check with your doctor or Dr. van Osch at Union Road Medical Clinic. More information on HIV and pregnancy can be found here.
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