HIV can be transmitted through contact with certain body fluids from and HIV-infected person.
These body fluids includes:
- Pre-seminal fluid.
- Rectal fluid.
- Vaginal fluids.
- Breast milk.
For HIV transmission to occur, these body fluids must come into contact with a mucous membrane or damaged body tissue such as skin scratch or through direct of body injection (by a needle or syringe) into bloodstream of a person.
Mucous membranes include all soft and moist areas just inside the openings to the human body such as the vagina, rectum, penis and mouth.
The main methods which spread HIV include:
— Unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person. All sexual activities can spread HIV such as anal sex (highest-risk sexual behavior which spreads HIV) Vaginal sex (second highest-risk sexual behavior which spreads HIV) and group sex.
— Also having multiple sex partners can increase the chances of acquiring HIV infections.
— Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water or other equipment, which are used to prepare drugs for injection, with a person who is infected with HIV.
— Mother to child infection. This occurs during birth or breastfeeding of a child by her mother.
— HIV can also be spread incase a person is pricked by a needle or any other sharp object which is contaminated.
— Through blood transfusions, receiving blood products and doing transplant of body organs or tissues from infected person.
— HIV is spread through eating food which has been pre-masticated by an HIV infected person.
— HIV can also be spread through bites from an infected person when the skin gets broken.
— HIV can be spread through oral sex. As a matter of fact, oral sex where by vaginal or semen is allowed into contact with mouth sore or swallowed has the highest rate of HIV spread.
— HIV can also be spread by contact between broken skins, wounds and mucous membranes with an infected person.
— HIV is also spread through deep kissing with an infected person who has bleeding gums or sores in the mouth. It should be note that HIV is not spread through saliva.
Ways through which HIV is not spread
HIV can’t survive outside the body of the host (human body) hence it can’t be spread through air or water. It also should be noted that an infected person with a low or undetectable viral load has very minimum chances of spreading the virus but still there are some risks involved. Oral sex with such a person still has great chances of transmitting HIV.
Viral load refers to the amount of HIV present in an infected person and usually is determined by CD4 cells count. Undetectable viral load is a situation when the HIV amount in the blood of an infected person is too low as a result of consistently adhering to a health provider’s instructions on the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Unprotected sexual contact with an infected person whose viral load is never advised because there might be inconsistencies in the person’s viral load, and hence, HIV may end up being transmitted.
Other ways through which HIV is not spread include:
- Insect bites including mosquito bites
- Saliva, sweat or tears.
- Casual bodily contact with infected person such as hugging, sharing glasses.
- HIV can’t be spread by sharing physical equipments used by any infected person such as toilet seats or bedding.