Transmission: How do you get it? How is it transmitted?

The most common way to contract HIV is through unprotected sex. Ninety-three percent of the cases today occurred this way. Here are the sexual behaviors that put you at the greatest risk for getting HIV:

Unprotected anal sex is the riskiest form of sex in terms of contracting HIV. The person being penetrated is at risk when he or she receives anal sex from an HIV positive person because infected semen or pre-cum is very easily absorbed into the bloodstream. The male who performs anal sex on a HIV positive person is at risk because infected rectal secretions contain more of the virus than either blood or semen, even when the infected person is receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. HIV is transmitted when the rectal secretions of the HIV positive person enter through the urethral tube (the opening in the penis), through open sores from an untreated sexually transmitted disease (STD), a urinary tract infection, or through the foreskin.

Unprotected Vaginal Sex: Is the next riskiest form of HIV transmission.

Male to female: Infected semen and precum are easily absorbed by the vagina into the blood stream. This is riskier than female to male and from bottom to top in anal sex. Female to male: Infected vaginal secretions can enter through the urethra, the foreskin or any open sores from an untreated STI.

You can get HIV from unprotected oral sex, particularly if one of the participants has an open and bleeding sore or cut in their mouth where HIV can enter via semen, pre-cum or vaginal secretions; always use a latex barrier for protection. Its best not to brush your teeth or floss prior to oral sex since these can create small tears in your gums - a quick rinse with mouthwash is a good substitute.

You can get infected with HIV if these fluids:

  • Rectal secretions (contain more HIV than either blood or semen, even when on ARVs)
  • Blood
  • Semen (cum)
  • Pre-cum
  • Vaginal and cervical fluids

It is important to note that while HIV cannot survive outside of the body for an extended period of time, it is NOT killed upon contact with the air and can remain infectious for several hours in the right conditions. Be sure to throughly clean sex toys or hands that have come in contact with any of these fluids.

Get in these entry sites:

  • Open and bleeding cuts or wounds on the gums, mouth, tongue or skin
  • The rectum
  • The vagina
  • The foreskin
  • The urethral tube of the penis
  • Open sores, from herpes or another sexually transmitted infection

These fluids are not risky as they do not hold HIV in infectious levels, unless they have blood in them:

  • Saliva
  • Urine
  • Sweat
  • Tears

These activities have a theoretical risk:

It is almost impossible to get HIV from receiving oral sex because saliva cannot carry HIV unless it contains HIV infected blood.

Deep kissing with open sores in the mouth where blood can be possibly transferred.

Are there any other ways to be infected? HIV can also be transmitted through shared needles (from drug use or tattoos), from mother to child during child birth or breast feeding (breast milk also contains HIV) and from blood transfusions of infected blood. HIV is not transmitted through kissing, casual contacts or handshakes, sharing living space, eating or drinking with an infected person or mosquitos or bedbugs. 

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