There are many misconceptions about HIV transmission. Let’s start with the fact that HIV is not easily transmitted as many people mistakenly believe. The main ways the virus spreads are through unprotected vaginal or anal sex or from sharing needles, syringes or other equipment to inject drugs. For mothers who are HIV-positive and pregnant, there is a small number of chances of transmitting HIV to her child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. In the absence of preventive care and close medical treatment
How is HIV not transmitted?
You can not get HIV from kissing, hugging or by shaking hands with somebody with HIV or any other normal social contact. Nor can you get HIV by being in the same place as someone with HIV, or by sharing household items such as crockery, cutlery, or bed linen. The virus can’t live very long outside someone’s body, like on surfaces. It can’t reproduce, or multiply, outside of a human body either. About animals HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which means that the infection can only be passed between humans.
“The two main ways in which HIV
is passed on are unprotected sex.”
When discussing HIV risk, it’s important to first establish the conditions that must take place in order for HIV transmission to occur.
Condition 1 : PRESENCE
To be infected with HIV a person must be HIV positive. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids including; blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretions and breast milk. HIV is not transmitted in saliva, urine, feces, or tears.
Condition 2 : QUANTITY
HIV must be at levels sufficient to cause infection. If the person who has HIV-POSITIVE or doesn’t know they have it. They haven’t been treated. It has the opportunity to transmit the infection to others in high viral loads. Therefore, HIV testing is important to tell if there is a chance of transmitting the virus to others because if you know fast and treat HIV. Drugs can lower levels of viral load that can not be detected. At an undetectable level will not be able to transmit HIV during sex. (U=U)
Condition 3 : ROUTE
HIV-infected bodily fluids must enter the body of another person in an effective way. If you have an open wound, it could be an entry way for HIV. Mucous membranes are important points of entry – these are the moist membranes lining body cavities that are not protected by dry skin, including the rectum, vagina, urethra, and the underside of the foreskin.
When all of these conditions are met, HIV may be transmitted.
What activities are at risk for HIV?
|Unprotected sex||Hug, touching, kissing|
|Shared needles||Cough or sneeze|
|Oral sex (Less than vaginal/anl sex)||Sharing dishes, glasses or utensils|
|Open wound or accidental needle stick||Mosquitoes or other insects bites|
|Had sexually transmitted disease||Toilet, water fountain, swimming pool|
How can HIV infection be prevented?
Sexual transmission of HIV can be prevented by:
- Monogamous relations.
- Non-penetrative sex.
- Consistent and correct use of condoms.
- Sex between two people when one of them is living with HIV but in taking antiretroviral therapy and has undetectable viral load
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis taken by people who are not infected with HIV.
- Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision reduces the chances of men acquiring HIV from women.
Learning about HIV is the most important way to stay healthy if you are trying to avoid infection. If you’re in a relationship with someone who has HIV, consider taking prevention medicine called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). It’s a daily pill that lowers your chances of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when you take it exactly as prescribed. Keep using a condom to get protection from other STDs.