How Can You Get Hiv
HIV is found in the following bodily fluids of someone living with the virus:
- vaginal fluids
For you to get HIV, these bodily fluids need to get into your blood through a mucous membrane , via shared injecting equipment, or through broken skin .
There is not enough HIV virus in other bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, to transmit it from one person to another.
Someone living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load, meaning effective treatment has lowered the amount of virus in their blood to levels where it cannot be detected by a normal blood test, cannot pass on HIV.
A person living with HIV with a detectable viral load can pass the virus to others whether they have symptoms or not.
HIV is most infectious in the first few weeks after infection. At this time many people are unaware of their status.
The main ways you can get HIV are:
Sharing Injection Drug Equipment
Sharing needles for injecting drugs most efficiently transmits HIV. This is because used needles and syringes can still contain blood, which can carry the virus.
An older study found that HIV can survive up to 42 days in syringes, depending on the temperature.
There are also some less common ways that HIV can be transmitted. Lets take a look at some of them below.
No 5 Having Vaginal Sex : 1 In 2500
A woman who is HIV positive can transmit the virus to her male partner through vaginal fluid and blood, which may pass through the urethra , the foreskin , or any open sores on the penis.
- Reduce the risk. Using a condom and water- or silicone-based lubricants, which can help lessen the chance that condoms will break or slip can help reduce a mans risk of getting HIV from an HIV-positive partner. Female condoms, which are made of a synthetic latex called nitrile and fit into the vagina during sex, are as protective as male condoms.
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Risk By Sexual Activity
When discussing HIV risk, people often try to ascertain which “type” of sex is riskier vaginal, anal, or oral. From a purely statistical standpoint, anal sex is considered the highest risk activity with an almost 18-fold greater risk of infection compared to vaginal sex.
But this assessment is somewhat misleading, at least from an individual perspective. While vaginal sex may pose a lower risk comparatively, the figures neither take into account the way in which the disease is distributed between men and women nor the vulnerabilities which place some individuals at extremely high risk of infection.
Women are three to four times more likely to get HIV from men than the other way around. A young woman is more likely to get HIV from her first sexual encounter than her male partner.
There are some men who are far more likely to get HIV than others. Studies have shown, for example, that uncircumcised men are more than twice as likely to get HIV after vaginal sex than circumcised men.
Vulnerabilities vary by individual, so assessing the real risk of vaginal sex requires a better understanding of the factors that place some women and men at greater risk than others.
How Hiv Infects The Body
HIV infects the immune system, causing progressive damage and eventually making it unable to fight off infections.
The virus attaches itself to immune system cells called CD4 lymphocyte cells, which protect the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs.
Once attached, it enters the CD4 cells and uses it to make thousands of copies of itself. These copies then leave the CD4 cells, killing them in the process.
This process continues until eventually the number of CD4 cells, also called your CD4 count, drops so low that your immune system stops working.
This process may take up to 10 years, during which time you’ll feel and appear well.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
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Why Hiv Spreads Less Easily In Heterosexual Couples
HIV particles invade a human immune cell. When HIV is transmitted through sex, only the strongest versions of the virus establish long-term infection. Chris Bjornberg/ScienceSourcehide caption
HIV is sexist.
A woman is twice as likely to catch the virus from an infected partner in a heterosexual relationship than a man is.
And homosexual men are at even greater risk. They’re more than 20 times as likely to get infected from an HIV-positive partner than partners in a heterosexual relationship.
Now scientists at Microsoft Research and the Zambia-Emory HIV Project have a clue about why these disparities exist.
Only the strongest, most evolutionary “fit” versions of the virus tend to infect a man when he has sex with an HIV-positive woman, scientist report Thursday in the journal Science.
Oral Sex And Hiv Acquisition
Oral sex is not likely to transmit HIV under most circumstances. Many large studies have shown that a person living with HIV who takes HIV drugs and has an undetectable viral load cannot transmit the virus to their sexual partners. This includes any kind of sex, including oral sex and sex without using condoms or barriers. This reality is known in the HIV community as Undetectable Equals Untransmittable, or U=U.
When a person living with HIV is not on treatment, oral sex is still a low-risk activity for HIV. If a person is not taking HIV drugs and/or has a detectable viral load, that low chance of transmission is greater if one of the partners has bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, gum disease, genital sores, and other sexually transmitted infections or diseases .
A number of studies have tried to figure out the exact level of HIV transmission risk that oral sex poses, but this is not easy to do. When HIV is transmitted, it is difficult to tell if oral sex or another activity that poses more risk was responsible.
The chances of HIV being passed from one person to another depend on the type of contact. HIV is most easily spread or transmitted through unprotected anal sex, unprotected vaginal sex, and sharing injection drug equipment that has not been cleaned. Unprotected sex means sex in which no condoms, other barriers, or HIV treatment-as-prevention methods are used.
For HIV transmission to be possible:
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Isnt Hiv Only A Risk For Certain Groups Of People
Like most illnesses, HIV doesnt discriminate between types of people and the infection can be passed on to anyone via one of the ways mentioned above.
Some people are more vulnerable to HIV infection if they engage regularly in certain activities that are more likely to transmit the virus. However, its a common misunderstanding that HIV only affects certain groups.
While not everyone has the same level of HIV risk, everyone can reduce their risk of infection.
Is It Easy To Catch Hiv
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Bites That Break The Skin
A bite that opens the skin and causes bleeding can lead to the transmission of HIV. However, according to the
goes up with increasing viral load.
Viral load is highest both during the early phase of HIV and without treatment with antiretroviral medications. Taking antiretroviral medications every day can reduce a persons viral load to very low levels that cant be detected through testing.
In this way, antiretroviral medications arent only a treatment, but an important tool for prevention. When HIV cant be detected in the blood, a person living with HIV cant sexually transmit the virus to a partner without HIV.
This principle is called Undetectable = Untransmittable and has been supported by
up to 6 months of taking antiretroviral medications each day to achieve an undetectable viral load.
A persons viral load is said to be durably undetectable when all test results are undetectable for at least 6 months after the first undetectable result.
Theres no need to be afraid of having casual contact with someone who is living with HIV. The virus doesnt live on the skin and cant live very long outside of the body.
Additionally, bodily fluids like saliva, tears, and sweat dont transmit HIV either.
Therefore, casual contact, such as holding hands, hugging, or sitting next to someone who has HIV, wont transmit the virus. Closed-mouth kissing isnt a threat either.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk Of Contracting Hiv
Ultimately, you shouldnt try to gauge your own risk of contracting HIV. The best thing to do is to assume that you always have a chance of contracting it when engaging in risky behavior. When it comes to sex, the best way to prevent HIV infection is to always use a condom. Not only should you use them every time, but you should use them properly, too. This may seem simple, but there are some important rules to follow. For example, no one should use a condom that has been in their wallet for the last year. Its important to use condoms as instructed and handle them with care. Taking one out of its packet with long fingernails isnt a good idea. You might also choose to use internal condoms, dental dams or gloves for protection.
There are other risks to manage, aside from having sex. Anyone who injects drugs should be sure to use clean equipment and never share with anyone else. Seeking out needle programs and other services makes this easier to do. Although it is an unlikely method of transmission, people in health care professions should be careful. They should ensure they have adequate training and knowledge. Health and safety in the workplace should involve methods for managing sharps and fluids.
How To Prevent The Spread Of Hiv
People living with HIV can use the following to prevent transmitting it to others:
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis : This is a daily pill that contains two antivirals called tenofovir and emtricitabine. When a person takes it daily, PrEP can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV through sex by
- of a recent potential HIV exposure.
Are There Any Issues That Affect Hiv Treatment In Women
Treatment with HIV medicines is recommended for everyone with HIV. Treatment with HIV medicines helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
People should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible after HIV is diagnosed. However, birth control and pregnancy are two issues that can affect HIV treatment in women.
Some HIV medicines may reduce the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, patches, rings, or implants. Women taking certain HIV medicines may have to use an additional or different form of birth control. For more information, view the HIV and Birth Control infographic from HIVinfo.
Women with HIV take HIV medicines during pregnancy and childbirth to reduce the risk of perinatal transmission of HIV and to protect their own health.
The choice of an HIV treatment regimen to use during pregnancy depends on several factors, including a womans current or past use of HIV medicines, other medical conditions she may have, and the results of drug-resistance testing. In general, pregnant women with HIV can use the same HIV treatment regimens recommended for non-pregnant adultsunless the risk of any known side effects to a pregnant woman or her baby outweighs the benefits of a regimen.
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How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from becoming AIDS. People with HIV and AIDS usually need to take a few different medicines. The medicines must be taken exactly as prescribed or they won’t work.
- help keep the number of CD4 cells high
- lower the viral load of HIV
Regular blood tests will check to see how well the medicines are working.
Tips For Safer Oral Sex
If a partner who is living with HIV has an undetectable viral load, their risk of transmitting HIV during oral sex is zero, whether they use the tips below or they do not.
If a partner living with HIV is not taking HIV drugs and/or has a detectable viral load, the chance of HIV transmission during oral sex is still low. The tips below can lower that chance even further. If you are not sure of your or your partners HIV status, and are not taking PrEP or if the partner living with HIV is not on treatment or is known to have a detectable viral load oral sex can be safer if you and/or your partner:
- get treatment for any other STIs you may have
- do not have gum disease
- wait to have oral sex until any mouth sores or genital cuts, scrapes, or sores have healed
- wait until after having oral sex to floss, brush your teeth, or do anything that could create cuts or cause bleeding in your mouth
- If you want to freshen up before oral sex, consider using a breath mint instead
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Contaminated Blood Transfusions And Organ/tissue Transplants
- receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV. This risk is extremely small because most countries test blood products for HIV first.
If adequate safety practices are not in place, healthcare workers can also be at risk of HIV from cuts made by a needle or sharp object with infected blood on it. However, the risk of occupational exposure, is very low in most countries.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, the only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test.
To Prevent Hiv Infection Couples Try Testing Together
In other words, particular versions of the virus, with particular DNA sequences, are most likely to pass from a woman to a man. This reduces the chance an infection occurs during sex.
The restriction is less when women have sex with an HIV-positive man. And, most likely, reduced even further when men have sex with men. So the chance of an infection increases in both situations.
As HIV replicates inside a person, mutations are introduced into its DNA. This results in a large number of different HIV versions swarming about the body each with its own genetic code.
But when HIV is transmitted through sex, usually only a single version of the virus establishes a long-term infection. So the process is almost like a filter, letting only certain viruses through.
This made scientists wonder: Is there something special about the HIV versions making it through the filter?
To figure this out, a team at Microsoft Research and Emory University analyzed data from a decades-long study on HIV transmission between “discordant” heterosexual couples in Zambia. These are couples in which one person is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative.
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Does Hiv Affect Women
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , in 2018, 19% of the new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas were among women. In addition, 57% of women with HIV were Black/African American.
The most common way that women get HIV is through sex with a male partner who has HIV without using a condom. Most women who have HIV know that they are HIV positive, but some women are not getting the HIV care and treatment they need.
How Is Hiv Transmitted Through Needles
HIV isnt transmitted only through sexual contact. Sharing needles also puts a person at higher risk of contracting HIV.
When a needle is injected into a persons body, it breaks the skin barrier. If the needle has already been injected into another person, it can carry traces of their blood, along with any infections they have. The contaminated needle can introduce these infections into the second persons body.
Researchers dont know if having an undetectable viral load reduces the risk of HIV transmission through shared needles, but its reasonable to assume it may provide some risk reduction.
HIV can affect anyone. Whatever their age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or race, everyone should take steps to protect themselves. But due to socioeconomic factors, some demographic groups have higher HIV transmission rates and generally are more affected by HIV.
According to the CDC , the general demographic traits most affected by HIV are:
Transgender women are also highly impacted by HIV transmissions as a population, reports the CDC .
These groups are disproportionately affected by HIV, but they arent inherently at greater risk of contracting HIV. An individuals personal risk depends on their behaviors, not on their age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race, or any other demographic factor.
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