Transmission

HIV Transmission And What You Need To Know

Do you know how HIV is transmitted? Well, there are many truths and half truths out there about HIV transmission. This is why it’s important to understand all the facts. Will all the facts, you will be in a better position to live with your infection or with HIV positive people.

HIV Key Facts

HIV is a virus that depends on blood to live. This simply means that the virus cannot live for long when outside the body. The virus enters the body directly through the blood stream or through the body’s mucous membrane. In most cases, this happens in the:

  • Vagina
  • Penis
  • Anus

When HIV enters the body, it attacks the cells of the Immune system. In a normal setting, the cells are supposed to fight the virus but the virus concentrates on killing the body’s defense. Once the virus gets in the body, it is found in the:

  • Vaginal fluid
  • Semen, both cum and pre-cum
  • Blood – including menstrual blood
  • Rectal mucosa or secretion

HIV Transmission Is Through Four Main Routes:

  1. Transmission of HIV can be through unprotected vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. Though possible, transmission through oral sex is rare.
  2. Sharing of unsterilized injection equipment when using drugs
  3. It can happen from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery or during breastfeeding.
  4. Infected transplants, blood transfusion, and other medical processes can also lead to transmission. This has been controlled by different measures.

Who is At Risk Of HIV Infection?

Anybody can get infected with HIV. Contrary to what most people believe, HIV does not affect a certain type or group of people. HIV positive people who are on antiretroviral medication reduce the spread of HIV.

HIV Transmission Myths

There is a lot of information about HIV and while most is true, there are a few myths. Let’s look at these myths:

  • HIV cannot be transmitted through surfaces. This means you cannot get infected or transmit the virus through handshakes, hugs, musical instruments, utensils or toilet seats.
  • Breathing near a person who is HIV positive cannot give you HIV. It is also not possible to transmit HIV through coughing, spitting or sneezing.
  • Saliva has very small amounts of the HIV virus. This significantly reduces the risk of transmission through kissing. Though this is the case, transmission is still possible if both people have open wounds or bleeding gums.
  • Insects do not transmit HIV because they will not inject blood into the body when they bite.
  • New or sterilized needles and syringes are safe. The problem is in the sharing.
  • HIV virus has no life in water. This means that transmission cannot be through shower areas, baths, or swimming pools.

HIV Transmission Facts

The HIV Virus Can Be transmitted through the following:

HIV can be transmitted from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man through vaginal sex. The presence of sores and cuts increase the risks.

Anal sex is one of the easiest transmission routes for HIV. This is facilitated by the fact that the anal lining can easily tear.

Though rare, transmission can still happen through oral sex. This is especially if there are open cuts and sores near the genitals and in the mouth.

Drug abuse is one of the ways HIV moves from one person to another. This is only in cases where the involved people are sharing injecting equipment and one of them is HIV positive. There is also a small risk when using tattoo and body piercing needles.

Blood transfusions and organ transplants also carry a small risk. There is a high risk though almost all medical practitioners test the blood and organ for HIV before any procedures.

Mother-to-child transfusion. There is a risk of the mother infecting their child during pregnancy, labor, childbirth and during breastfeeding. This risk reduces to zero if the mother manages her HIV infection properly.