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Many people still do not understand how HIV is passed, or transmitted, from one person to another. Knowing the basics helps you avoid getting the virus if you are HIV-negative, and avoid giving it to someone else if you are living with HIV (HIV+).
HIV is spread through contact with the following body fluids:
HIV is also spread through contact with these body fluids; however, usually only health care workers come into contact with these fluids:
HIV is not spread through contact with these body fluids:
The spread of HIV can be prevented! There are ways to avoid, or at least reduce, contact with body fluids that spread HIV. This info sheet explains how.
Today, the most common ways HIV is passed from one person to another are:
Re-Using and Sharing Needles for Injecting Drugs (Including Steroids or Hormones)
Every sexual act (oral, anal, or vaginal) that involves sexual fluids has at least some risk. Barriers, such as condoms (male and female), dental dams (thin squares of latex), and latex gloves help reduce risk substantially.
Unsafe sex (sex without condoms or barriers) puts you and/or your partner at risk for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Safer sex (sex using condoms or other barriers consistently and correctly) is the most effective way to protect you and your partner.
Which common sexual activities are most likely to cause HIV transmission when safer sex isn't used? Listed from most to least risky:
Sexual assault or rape can result in infection if the attacker is HIV+. The risk increases when rape involves anal penetration, force, and/or multiple attackers. Some forced sexual acts involving wounds can place a victim at very high risk.
Survivors of sexual assault or rape who do not already have HIV should be routinely offered PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis; also called non-occupational PEP, or nPEP) in emergency rooms. This 28-day treatment with HIV drugs greatly reduces the chances of becoming infected with HIV. PEP must be started within the first 72 hours of exposure to be effective. The earlier treatment is started, the more effective it will be. If PEP is not offered in the emergency room or clinic after a rape or sexual assault, do not be afraid to ask for it. The CDC issued recommendations for PEP following non-occupational exposures like sexual assault and rape in 2005.
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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