Paths of Infection
HIV can be transmitted through:
- Unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex
- Direct blood contact, which may occur through needle sharing, transfusions, accidents in health care settings, or certain blood products
- Mother to baby; in the womb, during birth, or through breast milk
HIV can enter the body through portals of entry, open cuts or sores, and by directly infecting cells in the mucous membranes.
HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, both vaginal and anal. HIV can easily pass through the mucus membranes in the genitals and the rectum, or may pass through cuts and sores. The risk of HIV infection from oral sex is quite low, however, risk can be higher for other sexaully transmitted diseases through oral sex. A brochure was developed for more information on determining your risk for HIV and STDS from oral sex. (front, back)
Mother to Infant Transmission
It is possible for a mother who has HIV to pass the virus to her fetus in the womb, by exposure to blood and vaginal fluids during birth, or through breast milk during feeding.
Sharing syringes [needles, works or fits] to inject medicines, hormones, steroids or drugs can pass blood directly from one person’s blood stream to another’s. It is also an unequivocal way to transmit HIV and other blood borne viruses such as Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV).
Since March 1985, all blood in the United States has been screened for HIV using the HIV antibody test. This practice has virtually eliminated the risk of getting HIV through a blood transfusion in the United States.
HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:
- Semen, including pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal and cervical secretions
- Breast milk-expressed through feeding
How you will not get HIV:
Kissing, mutual masturbation, and getting another person’s semen/cum or vaginal fluids on your skin does not spread HIV. The HIV virus cannot enter through the skin unless there is a fresh break in the skin. Scientific evidence shows that HIV is not passed through saliva, tears, or sweat.
There is absolutely no danger of becoming infected from casual contact. HIV cannot live outside of the human body, so you cannot be infected from toilet seats, phones, or water fountains. The virus cannot be transmitted in the air through sneezing or coughing. You cannot get it from mosquitoes or other insect or animal bites. Living with an HIV-infected person does not put you at risk, unless you have unprotected sex or share needles with him or her.
Blood transfusions and medical procedures in the US are safe. Although there have been cases of HIV through blood transfusions, tests have been in place since 1985 to ensure that the blood supply is safe from HIV and other diseases.