Healthy Living

How Do You Contract HIV?

How Do You Contract HIV?

Key Takeaways

  • Contracting HIV
  • Body fluids containing HIV
  • Body fluids without HIV

How Do You Contract HIV?

HIV was discovered in humans in the early 1980's, and has spread to millions of people all over the world.  It can be difficult to differentiate between those who have been infected by HIV, and who have not.  The virus has been attributed to fatalities in situations where the individual was unaware of their exposure to the disease.
The HIV virus permeates the body and circulates through the bloodstream, increasing the risk of spreading the disease.  The virus can also generate duplicates, increasing the viral load.
HIV cells are contained in the blood and bodily fluids.  If your fluids mix with the fluids of an infected person, you will contract the virus.

Body Fluids Containing HIV

The following body fluids carry HIV:

  • Vaginal fluids or secretions
  • Breast milk
  • Blood
  • Menstrual blood
  • Semen
  • Anal mucous or rectal fluids

Ways You Can Contract HIV

  • Sexual Intercourse This is one of the most common ways of contracting HIV.  Sexual intercourse with an infected person without the use of a condom accounts for more than half of the HIV transmission cases.  Females have the highest risk of infection when having unprotected sex.  This is because vaginal membranes are likely to tear and create a path for infected fluids.
  • Anal Sex Among all sexual behaviors, anal sex carries the highest risk.  People participating in anal sex have a higher risk of contracting HIV compared to those who don't.  Anal membranes can tear allowing transmission of infected fluids.
  • Oral Sex Tears in the gums or mouth of an infected person are highly susceptible to transferring the virus to another.
  • Blood Transfusion Cases of contracting HIV through blood transfusion have been high in the recent past.  Currently it is considered to be low risk.  If you receive blood from an infected person you will contract the disease. 
  • Mother –child Transmission Cases of this type of transmission have been reduced over time.  It is possible for an HIV-positive mother to transmit the infection to her child.  This can be before birth, at birth or through breastfeeding.  These cases have been minimized by doctors providing necessary precautions.
  • Sharing Of Sharp Objects This is where you share sharp or piercing objects with an infected person.  If you share tools such as needles, syringes and tattooing tools with an infected person you are likely to contract the infection.

Ways You Cannot Contract HIV

HIV cannot be contracted through the following:

  • Sweat
  • Urine
  • Tears
  • Saliva
  • Sharing towels and baths
  • Kissing when no sores are present
  • Insect bites from mosquitos
  • Shaking hands and hugging

The Bottom Line

HIV is a virus with no cure.  Spreading the infection involves sharing bodily fluids.  You can keep yourself safe by avoiding fluids of an infected person.  In cases where you are having sex with an infected person, use a condom.