LGBTQIA Human Rights Coalition
HIV is spread through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk of a person infected with HIV.
How is HIV spread?
HIV is spread through contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk of a person infected with HIV. The spread of HIV from person to person is called HIV transmission.
The most common way to get HIV is by having unprotected sex with a person who has HIV. (Unprotected sex means not using a condom.) During unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, HIV can enter the opening to the penis or the lining of the vagina, mouth, anus, or rectum. It can also enter through cuts and sores in the mouth or on the skin.
Another common way to get HIV is by sharing drug injection equipment (such as needles and syringes) with a person who has HIV.
HIV can also pass from an HIV-infected woman to her child during pregnancy, childbirth (also called labor and delivery), or breastfeeding. This spread of HIV is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
In the past, some people were infected with HIV after receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant from an HIV-infected donor. Today, this risk is very low because the supply of donated blood and organs is carefully tested in the United States.
You can’t get HIV by shaking hands with, hugging, or closed-mouth kissing a person infected with HIV. And you can’t get HIV from contact with objects such as toilet seats, doorknobs, or dishes used by a person infected with HIV.
Anybody can get HIV, but you can take steps to protect yourself from HIV infection.
Don’t have sex. Abstinence (not having sex of any kind) is a sure way to avoid HIV infection through sexual contact.
I am HIV positive but my partner is HIV negative. How can I protect my partner from HIV?
To protect your partner, use condoms correctly every time you have sex. Don’t share sex toys, razor blades, toothbrushes, or other items that may have your blood or sexual fluids on them. If you inject drugs, don’t share your needles, syringes, or other drug equipment with your partner.
Treatment with HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART for short) helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. ART can’t cure HIV infection but it can reduce the amount of HIV in an HIV-infected person’s body. Having less HIV in the body reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
If you aren’t already taking HIV medicines, talk to your health care provider about the benefits of ART for your health and to protect your partner from HIV. If you are taking HIV medicines, remember it’s still important to use condoms.
Yes, in some situations HIV medicines are used to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Are you HIV Aware?
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