How Is Hiv/aids Transmitted
Sexual contact – HIV is spread most commonly by sexual contact with an infected partner. The virus enters the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth during sexual activity.
Blood contamination – HIV may also be spread through contact with infected blood. However, due to the screening of blood for evidence of HIV infection, the risk of acquiring HIV from blood transfusions is extremely low.
Needles – HIV is frequently spread by sharing needles, syringes, or drug use equipment with someone who is infected with the virus. Transmission from patient to healthcare worker, or vice-versa through accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments, is rare.
Mother-infant – HIV also can be spread to babies born to, or breastfed by, mothers infected with the virus.
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How Does Hiv Affect The Body
The human immune system involves many types of cells which guard against germs responsible for most diseases. The immune system’s most important guard cells are B-cells and T-cells, which are special white blood cells. B-cells and T-cells cooperate to fight any germ that attacks the human body.
B-cells produce particular proteins, called antibodies, that try to neutralize the invading germ. After a person recovers from an infection, these antibodies continue to circulate in the bloodstream, acting as part of the immune system’s “memory.” Immune system memory explains why a person rarely suffers a second attack from an infectious disease such as measles. If the same germ is encountered again, the antibodies will recognize and neutralize it. T-cells attack the germ directly and try to kill it.
Hiv: How Its Not Transmitted
The following are nine ways the virus is not spread:
Kissing and touching. Social kissing and hugging pose no risk of transmission, Sha says. Also, being sexual with someone without exchanging infected body fluids does not spread the virus. The only time deep kissing is a risk is when the person infected with HIV has open sores or oral bleeding, Sha notes.
Sharing a living space. Any casual contact with someone who has HIV, including sharing a bathroom, is safe. However, Sha tells patients not to share razor blades or toothbrushes. If someone who is infected nicks himself while shaving or has bleeding gums, it could increase risk of transmission.
Sharing food or utensils. The virus cannot survive on surfaces, so sharing utensils and other household items will not spread HIV. You can even share a meal with someone who is infected without worry. Transmission has been associated with mothers pre-chewing food for their babies, when infected blood from the mouth mixes with the food. Known as pre-mastication, it is a common practice in Africa, but not typically done in the United States, Sha says.
Saliva, sweat, or tears. An infected persons saliva, sweat, and tears do not put you at risk.
Water fountains. Sipping from a water fountain after someone who has HIV used it is considered casual contact and will not lead to transmission.
Mosquitoes and other insects. The virus is not viable in insects or ticks, Sha says.
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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:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid
- Rectal fluids
- 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.
How Is Hiv Spread From Person To Person
HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex.
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV.
Less common ways are:
- From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to 1% or less in the United States.
- Getting stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:
- Having oral sex. But in general, the chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner is extremely low.
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How Can I Prevent Passing Hiv To My Unborn Baby
Today, new medicines mean you can lower your chance of passing HIV to your unborn baby during pregnancy, labor, and childbirth to less than 1%.2 Taking medicine to treat HIV is recommended for everyone who is HIV-positive to lower their viral load and help protect their immune system. Having a viral load that cannot be detected can keep you healthy and also prevent you from passing the virus to your unborn baby. Because HIV can spread in breastmilk, in the United States, you should not breastfeed if you have HIV, even if your viral load cannot be detected.
Learn more about how to prevent passing HIV to your baby.
Three Ways To End Hiv Stigma And Discrimination
Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor is a medical doctor, the CEO of EpiAFRIC, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Nigeria Health Watch
ABUJA, Oct 7 2019 – As a Public Health Doctor, I often meet people who experience stigma simply because they live with HIV. One person who still haunts me is a woman who is HIV positive and when she was in labor, a midwife would not help her. Instead she shouted at her to just push out the baby and then she stood far away from the bedside, disgusted by the womans HIV status. No one should go through such stigma at a vulnerable situation when they are about to birth life.
Another lady I met was denied university admission because she is HIV positive. She was screened for HIV without her consent, her HIV-positive status was disclosed publicly, and she was asked to leave the private university.
This is not okay. All forms of HIV-related stigma must stop. When people experience stigma and discrimination they may be afraid or ashamed to access HIV services. This fear of stigma has far-reaching implications it could cause people to delay being tested and knowing their HIV status and getting help, before its too late.
Globally, there are approximately 37.9 million people living with HIV, with 770,000 deaths, based on 2018 data. In 2018, there were 1.7 new HIV infections. Seventy-five million people have been infected by HIV since the epidemic began and 32 million have died as a result. HIV-related stigma can have serious consequences.
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How Long Does It Take To Develop The Disease
There is no fixed period between the first contact with HIV and the development of the disease. Signs and symptoms resulting from infection with HIV develop in stages. Many infected individuals may have no symptoms for several years. But others may develop symptoms within three years from the time of infection.
Symptoms of HIV infection are fever, swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpits, sweating, aches, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and diarrhea.
Within eight years, about 50 percent of all infected people develop specific conditions categorized as AIDS. These conditions include a lung disease called “pneumocystis carinii pneumonia,” skin tumours called “Kaposi’s sarcoma,” fungal and viral infections such as candidiasis and herpes zoster, and severe diarrhea.
Some AIDS patients also suffer from dementia resulting in problems with memory and thinking. AIDS patients are prone to various infections of the brain, just as they suffer from an unusually high number of cancers, bacterial and viral infections of other parts of the body.
How Hiv Is Transmitted
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.
HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, 1 of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.
The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:
- vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
- breast milk
- contact with animals or insects like mosquitoes
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Hiv Transmission Through Other Sexual Activities
HIV is also sometimes transmitted during oral sex . It may occasionally be passed from an HIV-positive person to someone sucking their penis.
Oral sex is much less risky than vaginal or anal sex, but it is not risk free. The risk depends on the viral load of the person with HIV, the dental health of the person performing oral sex and untreated sexually transmitted infections.
“Not every act of unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person results in HIV transmission.”
HIV can be transmitted by sharing sex toys such as dildos or butt plugs. They should be covered with condoms or disinfected between use by different people.
How Can I Make Sure I Dont Give Hiv To Anyone During Sex
If you find out that you have HIV, try to stay calm. People living with HIV can have normal, healthy relationships and sex lives. But its important to take precautions to help your partner stay HIV-free.
There are a few ways that you can avoid giving HIV to other people:
Always use condoms when you have vaginal and anal sex.
Start treatment for HIV as soon as possible, and keep taking your HIV medicine. When you take it correctly, HIV treatment can lower or even stop your chances of spreading the virus to your sexual partners .
Theres a daily pill your partner can take to lower the risk of getting HIV, called PrEP.
Dont share needles for shooting drugs, piercings, or tattoos.
Get tested and treated for other STDs besides HIV regularly. Having other STDs makes it easier for you to spread HIV to others.
If you test positive for HIV, its important to tell your sexual partners about it so they can be tested, too. Even if youre really careful to not spread HIV, be honest with your future partners about your status so you can both be informed and help each other stay healthy. Read more about talking with your partners about HIV.
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Hiv Transmission Risk Factors And Prevention
When the human immunodeficiency virus causes infection, it attacks certain immune system cells called T helper cells, or CD4 cells. The virus replicates itself and, over time, damages its host cells, impairing the body’s ability to fight off infections and making it susceptible to other diseases. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is the final stage of an infection with HIV.
Anyone can get HIV, but certain populations are at greater risk. There are, however, a number of ways to reduce your risk, and certain medicines and precautions can prevent the spread of the virus.
How Can I Protect Myself
The best way to protect yourself from HIV is to not have sex and not share needles.
If you decide to have sex, reduce your risk of getting HIV by:
- using a condom every time you have sex
- getting tested for HIV and making sure all partners do too
- reducing the number of sexual partners you have
- getting tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
Understanding how HIV spreads can help you make safer choices about sex. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about HIV and if you want to get tested.
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What Is Hiv And Aids
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that infects the immune system. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome . AIDS is the most advanced stage of the HIV infection and causes the immune system to become vulnerable to other infections. HIV can also be known as “the AIDS virus.”
The full name for AIDS describes several of the characteristics of the disease.
Acquired indicates that it is not an inherited condition.
Immune Deficiency indicates that the body’s immune system breaks down.
Syndrome indicates that the disease results in a variety of health problems.
It takes on average, 5-10 years for the initial HIV infection to progress to AIDS if not treated. While there is presently no cure or vaccine for HIV, with proper medical care, HIV can be managed and a near-normal lifespan can be expected with early treatment.
If I Get Infected Fluid From An Hiv
No, HIV is not always passed on from someone living with HIV. There are lots of reasons why this is the case. For example, if the HIV-positive person is on effective treatment it will reduce the amount of HIV in their body. If a doctor confirms that the virus has reached undetectable levels it means there is no risk of passing it on.
If youre concerned that youve been exposed to HIV you may be eligible to take post-exposure prophylaxis , which stops the virus from becoming an infection. However its not available everywhere and has to be taken within 72 hours of possible exposure to be effective.
Its really important to take a HIV test every time you think you have been at risk of HIV.
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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
Ways Hiv Is Not Transmitted
How well does HIV survive outside the body?
HIV does not survive long outside the human body , and it cannot reproduce outside a human host. It is not transmitted
- Through saliva, tears, or sweat.
- Through other sexual activities that dont involve the exchange of body fluids .
- Through the air.
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Lowering The Risk Of Sexual Transmission
There are several protective measures which dramatically reduce the risk of HIV transmission during sex. You can find out more about these on other pages.
Undetectable viral load: when people with HIV take effective treatment, the amount of HIV in their body fluids falls drastically, to the point where they cannot pass HIV on to their sexual partners. An extremely low level of HIV in body fluids is referred to as an undetectable viral load. The knowledge that this prevents transmission is often referred to ‘Undetectable equals Untransmittable’ .
PrEP: if the HIV-negative person takes antiretroviral medications as pre-exposure prophylaxis , this significantly reduces the risk of acquiring HIV. The most common form of PrEP is in a tablet, but it can also be provided as a vaginal ring or an injection.
Condoms: if male condoms or female condoms are used, this significantly reduces the risk of acquiring HIV.
Male circumcision: if you are circumcised, this partially lowers your risk of acquiring HIV during vaginal sex.
How Do I Avoid Getting Hiv During Sex
HIV is spread through contact with blood or sexual fluids , usually during vaginal and anal sex. So the only 100% certain way to avoid HIV is to not have vaginal or anal sex.
But most people do have sex at some point in their lives, so learning about HIV prevention and knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using condoms REALLY lowers your risk of getting HIV. If youre going to have sex, using condoms every single time is the best way to protect yourself from HIV. Theres also a daily pill you can take called PrEP that can help prevent HIV. Your doctor or nurse can tell you if PrEP is right for you.
Some sexual activities are safer than others when it comes to getting HIV. These activities are no risk theyve never caused a reported case of HIV:
having oral sex with a condom or dental dam
using clean sex toys
These activities are lower risk theyve only caused a few reported cases of HIV :
“French or deep kissing
vaginal sex with a condom and/or PrEP
anal sex with a condom and/or PrEP
oral sex without a condom or dental dam
These activities are high risk millions of people get HIV this way:
Theres no vaccine that protects against HIV, but lots of people are working on making one. And there are medicines that can help prevent HIV.
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