Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App 
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
  
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

Information

Basic Questions and Answers About HIV Transmission

December 14, 2015

 < Prev  |  1  |  2  |  3 

Can I Get HIV From Receiving Medical Care?

Although HIV transmission is possible in health care settings, it is extremely rare.

Careful practice of infection control, including universal precautions (using protective practices and personal protective equipment to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infections), protects patients as well as health care providers from possible HIV transmission in medical and dental offices and hospitals.

The risk of getting HIV from receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV is extremely small because of rigorous testing of the US blood supply and donated organs and tissues.

It is important to know that you cannot get HIV from donating blood. Blood collection procedures are highly regulated and safe.

For more information on preventing occupational exposure to HIV, see Occupational HIV Transmission and Prevention Among Health Care Workers.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Advertisement

Can I Get HIV From Casual Contact ("Social Kissing," Shaking Hands, Hugging, Using a Toilet, Drinking From the Same Glass or the Sneezing and Coughing of an Infected Person)?

No. HIV isn't transmitted
  • By hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes, or closed-mouth or "social" kissing with someone who is HIV-positive.
  • Through saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of an HIV-positive person.
  • By mosquitoes, ticks or other blood-sucking insects.
  • Through the air.

Only certain body fluids -- blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk -- from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use. Babies can also get HIV from an HIV-positive mother during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. See How is HIV passed from one person to another?

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Can I Get HIV From a Tattoo or a Body Piercing?

There are no known cases in the United States of anyone getting HIV this way. However, it is possible to get HIV from a reused or not properly sterilized tattoo or piercing needle or other equipment, or from contaminated ink.

It's possible to get HIV from tattooing or body piercing if the equipment used for these procedures has someone else's blood in it or if the ink is shared. The risk of getting HIV this way is very low, but the risk increases when the person doing the procedure is unlicensed, because of the potential for unsanitary practices such as sharing needles or ink. If you get a tattoo or a body piercing, be sure that the person doing the procedure is properly licensed and that they use only new or sterilized needles, ink, and other supplies.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Can I Get HIV From Being Spit on or Scratched by an HIV-Infected Person?

No. HIV isn't spread through saliva, and there is no risk of transmission from scratching because no body fluids are transferred between people.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Can I Get HIV From Mosquitoes?

No. HIV is not transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, or any other insects.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Can I Get HIV From Food?

You can't get HIV from consuming food handled by an HIV-infected person. Even if the food contained small amounts of HIV-infected blood or semen, exposure to the air, heat from cooking, and stomach acid would destroy the virus.

Though it is very rare, HIV can be spread by eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver's mouth mixes with food while chewing. The only known cases are among infants.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Are Lesbians or Other Women Who Have Sex With Women at Risk for HIV?

Case reports of female-to-female transmission of HIV are rare. The well-documented risk of female-to-male transmission shows that vaginal fluids and menstrual blood may contain the virus and that exposure to these fluids through mucous membranes (in the vagina or mouth) could potentially lead to HIV infection.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).


Is the Risk of HIV Different for Different People?

Some groups of people in the United States are more likely to get HIV than others because of many factors, including the status of their sex partners, their risk behaviors, and where they live.

When you live in a community where many people have HIV infection, the chances of having sex or sharing needles or other injection equipment with someone who has HIV are higher. You can use CDC's HIV, STD, hepatitis, and tuberculosis atlas to see the percentage of people with HIV ("prevalence") in different US communities. Within any community, the prevalence of HIV can vary among different populations.

Gay and bisexual men have the largest number of new diagnoses in the United States. Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Also, transgender women who have sex with men are among the groups at highest risk for HIV infection, and injection drug users remain at significant risk for getting HIV.

Risky behaviors, like having anal or vaginal sex without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV, and sharing needles or syringes play a big role in HIV transmission. Anal sex is the highest-risk sexual behavior. If you don't have HIV, being a receptive partner (or bottom) for anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for getting HIV. If you do have HIV, being the insertive partner (or top) for anal sex is the highest-risk sexual activity for transmitting HIV.

But there are more tools available today to prevent HIV than ever before. Choosing less risky sexual behaviors, taking medicines to prevent and treat HIV, and using condoms with lubricants are all highly effective ways to reduce the risk of getting or transmitting HIV. Learn more about these and other strategies to prevent HIV.

For more information about the risk for different groups of people, see HIV in the United States and HIV by Geographical Distribution.

Learn more about how to protect yourself, and get information tailored to meet your needs from CDC's HIV Risk Reduction Tool (BETA).

 < Prev  |  1  |  2  |  3 


Related Stories

Living With HIV
HIV/AIDS: The Basics
HIV Transmission
More on HIV/AIDS Basics


  
  • Email Email
  • Printable Single-Page Print-Friendly
  • Glossary Glossary

This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 


Advertisement