Modes Through Which HIV Is Transmitted
Unprotected sexual contact with infected partner(s):
- Anal sex and vaginal sex are high risk for HIV transmission
- Oral sex is lower risk
From a mother to her baby:
- HIV can be transmitted while the baby is in utero, during delivery, or through breast-feeding
- It is important to note that with ARV medications and supplemental (formula) feeding, the chance of transmission is significantly reduced.
Sharing of Contaminated Needles for Injection Drug Use (IDU):
- Persons who inject drugs may sometimes share injection equipment with other drug users. Because needles penetrate skin, sharing needles results in body fluid exchange which can lead to HIV infection.
- Health workers handle bodily fluids during sample collection, clean up and disposal operations. Health workers may also be at risk of needle stick injuries if materials are not disposed of properly. As such, there is a small risk of transmission if HIV-infected bodily fluids enter the body of the health worker through a needle stick or other exposure.
- Universal precautions, such as gloves, masks, and safe needle disposal, reduce the risk of exposure to blood and body fluids in the healthcare setting
Modes Through Which HIV Is NOT Transmitted
HIV cannot be spread through kissing, holding hands, coughing/sneezing, or living in the same space as a person with HIV. HIV also cannot be passed through sharing food, drinks, dishes or utensils.
See Myths and Misconceptions
HIV cells are present in:
- Vaginal fluids
So, HIV can only be spread if these fluids enter another person’s body. This can happen by sexual intercourse, when breastfeeding your baby, during childbirth, and/or sharing needles with infected persons.
To prevent the spread of the virus we should:
- Have protected sex with a condom.
- NOT share needles, even if it's with a partner or family.
- Take your HIV medications every day.
- Test your Viral Load and CD4 count regularly.