How Do New Hiv Infections Happen
HIV can be passed on to another person through infected blood, semen, vaginal and anal fluids, and breast milk. In the UK, HIV is most commonly transmitted through unprotected anal or vaginal sex or by the sharing of infected needles or other drug-injecting equipment.
HIV cannot live for more than a few minutes outside the human body, so getting HIV is difficult unless you have unprotected sex or share drug-injecting equipment.
It is important to be aware that if someone is on effective medication and the level of virus in their blood has been undetectable for at least 6 months, then they cannot pass on the virus to others.
Mother-to-baby transmission in pregnancy is extremely uncommon in the UK, as doctors work with pregnant women to reduce the risk of this happening.
Many myths continue from the early days of HIV and it is important to be aware that you cannot get HIV through day-to-day contact such as shaking hands or hugging. HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva, including kissing, spitting, or even sharing plates, cups or cutlery. Nor can HIV be passed on though urine or faeces, so you cannot get HIV from a toilet seat!
‘can I Get Hiv From Oral Sex Is A Question Weve Been Asked Frequently Through Our Website So Today Weve Put Together Your All You Need To Know About Oral Sex Risk Guide
This article is also available in Simplified Chinese and Thai.
Oral sex is one of the more popular sexual acts encountered in the bedroom with the Australian Study of Health and Relationships revealing that 88% of men in Australia have experienced oral sex. So that perhaps explains the reason why we get asked this sensible question so often: does oral sex put me at risk of getting HIV?
Lets look a little closer
Can I Become Infected If My Partner Has Hiv
A partnership where one person is infected with HIV and the other is not can be described as a sero-discordant relationship. There is a risk of HIV transmission if the discordant couple has unprotected sex. However, this risk can be greatly reduced with the use of condoms during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Both partners in a discordant sexual relationship should take on the responsibility of protecting one another from HIV infection.
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When Your Viral Load Is Undetectable
Eventually, you want to have an undetectable viral load — one so low that a lab test canât find it. When you have an undetectable viral load, you canât spread the virus to your sexual partner.
Even when you reach that point, you must remember that the virus is still in your body. To keep it at bay, take your medicine every day, just as your doctor prescribes. If you skip doses or stop treatment, your viral load can go up quickly. The chance that you can transmit the virus to your partners also goes way up.
Tell your doctor if you have trouble sticking to your treatment. Talk to your partners, too. Discuss other kinds of protection, like condoms, safer sex, or pre-exposure prophylaxis . This daily pill can lower the chance of infection in people who donât have HIV by up to 99%.
How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
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Is Unprotected Anal Intercourse More Of An Hiv Risk Than Vaginal Or Oral Sex
Unprotected anal intercourse does carry a higher risk than most other forms of sexual activity. The lining of the rectum has fewer cells than that of the vagina, and therefore can be damaged more easily, causing bleeding during intercourse. This can then be a route into the bloodstream for infected sexual fluids or blood. There is also a risk to the insertive partner during anal intercourse, though this is lower than the risk to the receptive partner.
Rare Ways Hiv Is Transmitted
Activities that seldom, but can, lead to HIV transmission include:
- oral sex
There are a number of methods that reduce the risk of contracting HIV:
- use condoms or other forms of barrier protection during sexual contact
- never sharing needles for injectable drugs or medications
- get tested regularly for HIV and other STIs
If a person is living with HIV, consider the above precautions and take additional measures. Following an antiretroviral medication regimen can reduce viral load and reduce the likelihood of transmission to others.
Another way to reduce the spread of HIV is by taking pre-exposure prophylactic medications. Also, post-exposure prophylaxis can be used to prevent HIV infection if someone is exposed to the virus.
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How Could Hiv Infect The Mouth And Throat
HIV is not able to infect most cells in the mouth. Only one cell type found in the mouth is vulnerable to HIV infection .
The tissue of the mouth and oesophagus is also very thick compared with genital tissues, and fluids stay in contact with it for a very short time because swallowing clears the mouth regularly. The mouth is therefore generally regarded as an unlikely route of HIV transmission.
Saliva contains numerous factors that have been found to inhibit HIV and stomach acid is likely to inactivate HIV in the same way as other viruses .
Interpreting The Numberswhat Additional Information Needs To Be Provided
Some clients may see these numbers and think their risk of HIV transmission is low. Therefore, caution is needed when interpreting them. If these numbers are provided to clients, they should be accompanied by information that helps shed light on why the risk may be higher than it seems.
Transmission can occur after one exposure.
It is important to emphasize that a person could become infected from having unprotected sex once or a person could have unprotected sex many times and not become infected, regardless of how low or high the risk per exposure is.
A risk of 1% would mean that an average of one infection would occur if 100 HIV-negative people were exposed to HIV through a certain type of sex. It does not mean that a person needs to be exposed 100 times for HIV infection to occur.
These are estimates of average risk in the absence of biological factors that increase risk.
The numbers in the table above are rough estimates. They are averages and do not represent the risk from all exposures to HIV through a certain type of sex.
The risk of HIV transmission may be much higher than these averages if biological risk factors are present. For example, research shows that STIs and some vaginal conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis, can increase the risk of HIV transmission by up to 8 times.6,7,8 As a result, the risk of an HIV-negative woman becoming infected through unprotected receptive vaginal sex could be closer to 1% if she has a vaginal STI.
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Hiv Treatment & Undetectable
Todays HIV treatments, called antiretroviral therapy or ART, are extremely effective. Some treatments are a single tablet. Long-acting injectable medications are likely to be approved and available soon. Medicine has come a long way since the first HIV treatment options became available in the 1990s.
There is still no functional cure for HIV, but ART can help people live long, healthy lives. Todays medications are provided in combinations that reduce a persons viral load to levels so low its undetectable. People who become undetectable cannot transmit the virus to others.
Viral load is a term that describes how much virus a person living with HIV has in their body.
Without HIV medications, the virus replicates which causes the amount of virus in the body to increase.
HIV medications prevent HIV from making copies of itself. Then, the amount of HIV in the body goes down.
To see how well HIV treatments are working, doctors and other providers measure the amount of virus in the blood and report a measurement called your viral load. Its simply a measurement of how many copies of the virus are in a single unit of blood.
A very low amount of virus may even be undetectable by viral load tests . A common undetectable level is < 20 copies per milliliter of blood. Low viral loads are those that are less than 200 copies per milliliter. Very high viral loads can be over 500,000 copies per milliliter.
How Is Hiv Spread Through Sex
You can get infected from sexual contact with someone who has HIV. Sexual contact that can transmit HIV includes:
- vaginal sex
- anal sex
- oral sex
If you have sex, the best thing you can do to prevent HIV infection is practice safer sex with any partner who is not proven to be HIV negative . To do so, always use protectionthis could include using a condom, dental dam, or other latex barrier, and/or PrEP . It is also important to avoid rough sex or other activities that might cause bleeding. If you use lube with a condom, make sure it is water-based, not oil-based. Oil-based lube causes latex condoms to break. See more tips for using condoms note that, if used correctly and consistently, condoms also protect against other sexually transmitted infections and against pregnancy.
If you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected, it doesnt mean that you will be infected, too. But there is always a chance, especially if your partner is not on effective HIV medicines. Using condoms and PrEP reduces your risk.
HIV is NOT spread by:
- hugging or massage
- sex toys you dont share
- daily living with someone who has HIV
For more information, see Sex and Sexuality in the Daily Living section.
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How You Become Infected
There is HIV virus in body fluids like vaginal secretions and semen. If those fluids are present, they can enter the bloodstream of someone who doesn’t have HIV through an opening such as a mouth sore or a genital ulcer.
Your chances are higher of getting HIV if you:
- Have sores in your mouth, vagina, or penis
- Have another sexually transmitted disease
Hiv And Maternal Transmission
HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or through breastfeeding. If left untreated throughout these stages, there is a 15-45% chance of an HIV positive mother transmitting the virus to their child . However there are treatment options to prevent this from happening.
If pregnancy occurs and there has been potential HIV exposure, ask a healthcare provider about getting tested for HIV as early as possible. Taking medications called antiretroviral therapy as prescribed can reduce the viral load so that the baby has a very low chance of contracting HIV .
A person with HIV should not breastfeed their child, as breast milk can transmit HIV. Even if a person is taking ART and their viral loads are undetectable, they should still not breastfeed.
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Path To Improved Health
There are many ways to prevent occupational exposure to HIV. To start, health care workers should treat all body fluids the same way. You should assume they are infected and take precautions, including:
- Use protective covering, such as gloves and goggles. You always should do this when dealing with blood and body fluids.
- Wash your hands and other skin areas right after contact with blood and body fluids.
- Be careful when handling and disposing of needles and sharp instruments.
- Use available safety devices to prevent needlestick injuries.
- Be aware of your employers postexposure processes.
Be aware of your organizations policies and procedures to follow when an exposure occurs. If it does occur, follow the basic steps below:
- For a skin puncture, induce bleeding at the wound site. Do this by applying gentle pressure as you wash the area with soap and water.
- For a skin or mucous splash, rinse the area with water.
- Get the infected persons information. This includes name, address, phone number, and HIV status. If a patient, get their doctors contact information.
- Notify your supervisor and coworkers. If your place of work has other procedures in place, follow those .
- Seek immediate medical care. Go to your employee health unit, emergency department, or personal doctor.
Can I Become Infected With Hiv If I Inject Drugs And Share The Needles With Someone Else Without Sterilizing The Needles
We strongly recommend that you use new equipment every time you inject. You can get new equipment from Counterpoint Needle & Syringe Program at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection.
There is a possibility of becoming infected with HIV if you share injecting equipment with someone who has the virus. If HIV infected blood remains inside the needle or in the syringe and someone else then uses it to inject themselves, that blood can be flushed into the bloodstream. Sharing needles, syringes, spoons, filters or water can pass on the virus. Disinfecting equipment between uses can reduce the likelihood of transmission, but does not eliminate it.
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How To Minimize Risk
Clearly, the best way to minimize the risk of infection is to practice safer sex. This is especially true if you have multiple sex partners or are unsure about the health of a sex partner. These include condoms and dental dams for those engaging in cunnilingus or anilingus.
There are additional strategies that can further reduce risk:
- If you are HIV-positive, take your HIV medicine as prescribed. If your viral load remains undetectable, you have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners.
- If you are HIV-negative, you can ask your healthcare provider to prescribe HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis , a once-daily drug therapy that can reduce your risk of infection by more than 90%.
- Regular HIV screening is recommended for persons at high risk of infection, including MSM, injecting drug users, and persons with multiple sex partners. Periodic STD screenings are also recommended.
Finally, communication is tantamount to the long-term avoidance of HIV. Whether you are HIV-positive or HIV-negative, the most harm comes from leaving things unspoken. Learn more about ways to negotiate safer sex or how to disclose your HIV status to someone you’re dating.
How Hiv Is Transmitted
The first step in determining whether you are at risk of HIV is to better understand how the virus is transmitted.
HIV thrives in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Most people get infected when exposed to HIV through these fluids.
HIV is transmitted through:
HIV can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth, although this is less common in the developed world due to advances in prevention and treatment.
It is important to note that HIV cannot penetrate intact skin. The virus can enter the body either through porous mucosal tissues , through breaks in vulnerable tissues , or directly through the bloodstream.
HIV infection can occur with just one exposure, particularly in high-risk individuals.
By contrast, HIV does not thrive in saliva, urine, tears, or feces and cannot survive in infectious quantities when exposed to air and environmental conditions.
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What If You Do Swallow It
You can swallow or spit, but its probably a little safer to swallow as the entry point for the HIV is much more likely to be via a cut in your gums than the stomach. HIV transmission from oral sex is very rare whatever you choose. Whichever you decide its better to do it quickly rather than keep the cum in your mouth for any significant amount of time.
How Can You Prevent Getting Or Transmitting Hiv Through Sex
There are several ways to prevent getting or transmitting HIV through anal or vaginal sex.
If you are HIV-negative, you can use HIV prevention medicine known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis to protect yourself. You can also use other HIV prevention methods, below.
If you have HIV, the most important thing you can do to prevent transmission and stay healthy is to take your HIV medicine , every day, exactly as prescribed. People living with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners. Read more about Treatment as Prevention. There also are other options to choose from, below.
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How Can You Reduce The Risks
The most effective ways to prevent HIV being passed on are HIV treatment and PrEP.
There are several other ways to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from oral sex. Naturally, some will be more acceptable than others to different individuals, so you must make your own decisions about the level of risk you find acceptable. If you would like to discuss these issues, ask to see a health adviser, or other health professional, at your HIV treatment centre or sexual health clinic. Many of the strategies below will also provide protection against other sexually transmitted infections:
If you are living with HIV, taking HIV treatment as prescribed, so that you maintain an undetectable viral load is the most effective way of preventing HIV being passed on.
If you are HIV negative and are concerned that you may be vulnerable to acquiring HIV, you may want to consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis .