How Hiv Is Not Spread
The virus doesn’t survive well outside the body. So HIV cannot be spread through casual contact with an infected person, such as by sharing drinking glasses, by casual kissing, or by coming into contact with the person’s sweat or urine.
It is now extremely rare in Canada or the United States for HIV to be transmitted by blood transfusions or organ transplants.
What Puts You At Risk For Stds And Hiv
You’re at risk if you:
- Have sex without using a condom, with someone who is infected.
- Have had an STD.
- Have more than one sex partner.
- Are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
- Many women have STDs without having symptoms. This means that unless she gets tested, she may have an STD and not know it.
- Young women are getting HIV or an STD because the tissue lining the vagina is more fragile.
If you are a woman, take charge of your sexual health. Be sure to schedule pelvic exams and pap smears every year. Get tested and learn how to protect yourself from STDs and HIV.
If You Already Have Hiv
If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting treatment when your immune system is still healthy.
Experts recommend starting treatment as soon as you know you are infected.footnote 21
Your partner may also be able to take medicine to prevent getting infected.footnote 17 This is called pre-exposure prophylaxis .
Steps to avoid spreading HIV
If you are infected with HIV, you can greatly lower the risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner by starting treatment when your immune system is still healthy.
- Take antiretroviral medicines. Getting treated for HIV can help prevent the spread of HIV to people who are not infected.
- Tell your sex partner or partners about your behaviour and whether you are HIV-positive.
- Follow safer sex practices, such as using condoms.
- Do not donate blood, plasma, semen, body organs, or body tissues.
- Do not share personal items, such as toothbrushes, razors, or sex toys, that may be contaminated with blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.
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What You Need To Know About The Links Between Hiv And Stds
Many people think that STDs are a harmless “fact of life.” Since most STDs can be cured, people think, “Doctors give you medicine and that’s the end of it, right?” Well, not quite! Having an STD can increase your chances of getting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
How Long Can Hiv Survive Outside The Body
Once outside the body, HIV usually cant survive for very long. Coming into contact with blood or semen that has been outside the body doesnt generally pose a risk for HIV transmission.
Similarly, the risk of passing on HIV to someone else if you have a detectable viral load and cut yourself is also very low. Wash away any blood with soap and hot water and cover the wound with a sticking plaster or dressing.
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Is There A Cure For Hiv
There is no cure for HIV. But if you acquire the virus, there are drugs that help suppress the level of HIV in the body and prevent its spread to other people. Doctors use a combination of drugs called HAART to treat HIV/AIDS. Although it is not a cure, HAART has greatly reduced the number of deaths from HIV-related complications in the United States. HIV has become like a chronic disease, and people living with HIV receiving successful treatment can live a long and healthy life.
Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Some people may not develop any symptoms after contracting HIV and could remain undiagnosed until the symptoms of AIDS appear. This could be up to 10 years later.
However, 50% or more of people living with HIV may develop mild flu-like symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks. Early symptoms may include:
- muscle aches
- swollen glands
The symptoms of HIV infection may last from a few days to weeks. They may go away on their own.
Misdiagnosis of early HIV infection is common. If you think you have HIV, speak with your health care provider about being tested.
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How To Tell If Symptoms Are Hiv
There are three types of HIV tests:
- An NAT involves drawing blood from a vein. It can tell if you have HIV or how much virus is present in your blood. While an NAT can detect HIV sooner than other types of tests, this test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure, or a possible exposure and have early symptoms of HIV infection. This test takes several days for results to come back.
- An antigen/antibody test is recommended for testing done in labs and is now common in the United States. It involves drawing blood from a vein, and results take several days to come back. There is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available that is done with a finger prick and takes 30 minutes or less to get results.
- HIV antibody tests only look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid. Antibody tests can detect an HIV infection 23 to 90 days after exposure. Most rapid tests and the only currently approved HIV self-test are antibody tests. They take 20 minutes or less to provide results.
Keep in mind, any positive result would necessitate a second test to confirm it. The only test that would not require a second confirmatory test is the NAT.
Is There A Period When The Virus Isnt Transmittable
HIV is transmittable soon after its introduced into the body. During this phase, the bloodstream contains higher levels of HIV, which makes it easy to transmit it to others.
Since not everyone has early symptoms of HIV, getting tested is the only way to know if the virus has been contracted. An early diagnosis also allows an HIV-positive person to begin treatment. Proper treatment can eliminate their risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.
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Early Symptoms Of Hiv
The first few weeks after someone contracts HIV is called the acute infection stage.
During this time, the virus reproduces rapidly. The persons immune system responds by producing HIV antibodies, which are proteins that take measures to respond against infection.
During this stage, some people have no symptoms at first. However, many people experience symptoms in the first month or so after contracting the virus, but they often dont realize HIV causes those symptoms.
This is because symptoms of the acute stage can be very similar to those of the flu or other seasonal viruses, such as:
- they may be mild to severe
- they may come and go
- they may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks
Early symptoms of HIV can include:
- upset stomach
Because these symptoms are similar to common illnesses like the flu, the person who has them might not think they need to see a healthcare provider.
Whether a person has symptoms or not, during this period their viral load is very high. The viral load is the amount of HIV found in the bloodstream.
A high viral load means that HIV can be easily transmitted to someone else during this time.
Initial HIV symptoms usually resolve within a few months as the person enters the chronic, or clinical latency, stage of HIV. This stage can last many years or even decades with treatment.
Challenges In Calculating A Number
It isnt easy for researchers to calculate the risk of transmission from an exposure to HIV through sex. To do this effectively, a group of HIV-negative individuals need to be followed over time and their exposures to HIVboth the number of times they are exposed and the types of exposureneed to be tracked.
As you can imagine, accurately tracking the number of times a person is exposed to HIV is very difficult. Researchers ask HIV-negative individuals enrolled in these studies to report how many times they have had sex in a given period of time, what type of sex they had, how often they used condoms and the HIV status of their partner. Because a person may have trouble remembering their sexual behaviour or may not want to tell the whole truth, this reporting is often inaccurate.
Furthermore, a person does not always know the HIV status of their partner. For this reason, researchers usually enroll HIV-negative individuals who are in stable relationships with an HIV-positive partner . Researchers can then conclude that any unprotected sex reported by a study participant counts as an exposure to HIV.
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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
How Hiv Is Spread
HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person’s body, usually through:
- Sexual contact. The virus may enter the body through a tear in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Most cases of HIV are spread this way.
- Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person:
- Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item that is contaminated with HIV.
HIV may be spread more easily in the early stage of infection and again later, when symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
A woman who is infected with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
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Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
How Does Hiv Spread
HIV spreads when infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids enter the body. Because symptoms can be mild at first, people with HIV might not know they’re infected. They can spread HIV to others without knowing it.
HIV can spread:
- during sex
- through sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
HIV also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV does not spread through:
- pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat
- coughing or sneezing
- sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
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When Do Symptoms Occur
Some people have flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks after infection, but others may not feel sick or not develop symptoms at all until later.
See a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of HIV and think you may have been exposed to HIV. Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know for sure.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly through having anal or vaginal sex or sharing needles or syringes with an HIV-positive partner. Anal sex is the highest-risk behavior.
You can prevent HIV by using condoms correctly every time you have sex pre-exposure prophylaxis, a prevention method in which the HIV-negative partner takes daily HIV medicine to prevent HIV and treatment as prevention, a method in which the HIV-positive partner takes daily HIV medicine to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load.
Only antigen/antibody tests or nucleic acid tests can diagnose acute HIV infection. NATs look for actual virus in the blood, and antigen/antibody tests look for HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when youre exposed to viruses like HIV, and antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate.
However, no test can detect HIV immediately after infection. NATs can usually tell if you have an HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure, while antigen/antibody tests can tell 18 to 45 days after exposure.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers or sores
Is It Safe For Children With Hiv To Receive Routine Immunizations
MMR, or measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, is safe to give to children with HIV, unless they have a severely weakened immune system.
DTaP/Td vaccine is safe to give to infants and children with HIV.
Hib and Hep B vaccines are safe to give to children with HIV.
Hepatitis A and B vaccines are safe to give to HIV-positive children.
VZIG should be considered for known HIV-positive children, depending on their immune status.
A yearly influenza vaccine is recommended for children with HIV, as well as any individual living in the same household as a child with HIV. There are two types of influenza vaccine children and adults with HIV should receive the “shot” form of the vaccine–not the nasal spray form, as it contains a live virus. Pneumococcal vaccine can be safely administered to age-appropriate HIV-infected children.
Always consult with your child’s doctor regarding immunizations for an HIV-infected child.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. By taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed, you can make the amount of HIV in your blood very lowso low that a test cant detect it . Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online, or your health care provider may be able to order one for you. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
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 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.
I Am Pregnant What Tests For Should Be Done For Infection
You should be tested for hepatitis B, syphilis, group B streptococcus, Chlamydia trachomatis, gonorrhea and human immunodeficiency virus in every pregnancy. All these infections can hurt your baby if he or she gets the infection. If you are tested and find out you have any of these infections, treatment can usually prevent your baby from becoming infected and sick from these infections.
You should also be tested for rubella if you do not know if you are immune. Knowing if you are not immune can help you avoid getting rubella while pregnant. If you are not immune, you can get the rubella vaccine after your baby is born so that you will not get rubella in the future. In some provinces, pregnant women are tested for chickenpox for the same reason.
Depending on your medical history, tests may also be done for other infections such as cytomegalovirus or parvovirus.
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