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HIV Transmission

HIV-Trans-1

What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can be transmitted when an HIV negative person engages in high-risk activities with an HIV positive person, primarily during unprotected vaginal or condomless anal sex, as well as when people share needles or other injection equipment that have been used by an HIV positive person. The virus has the ideal conditions to enter the blood stream of an HIV negative person during these activities and begin to attack the body’s immune system.

In order for HIV to be transmitted from one person to another, one person engaging in the unsafe practice must be HIV positive.

What is AIDS?

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a condition diagnosed by a physician when an HIV positive person’s immune system is weakened to the point that their ability to fight off other illnesses and infections (Opportunistic Infections) is severely compromised.

Common opportunistic infections include:

  • Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Fungal Infections
  • Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC)
  • Cervical Dysplasia/Cervical Cancer
  • Active Tuberculosis
  • Encephalitis due to HIV
  • AIDS related Neuro-Degenerative Disease (Dementia)
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Herpes Simplex (Last over one month)
  • Syphilis

Transmission Equation

HIV in Bodily Fluid

Direct Access to the Bloodstream

Risky Activity

Possibility of HIV Infection

In order to contract HIV the following conditions must be met:

  • There must be HIV present in a bodily fluid. The five bodily fluids that carry the HIV virus include: blood, semen (including pre-ejaculate), vaginal fluids, breast milk, and rectal secretions.
  • The bodily fluid containing HIV must have direct access to the bloodstream. This can be through cuts, tears, rips, mucous membranes, open sores, or needles.
  • Transmission occurs through a risky activity in which the first two conditions are met. For example: condom less sex, sharing needles, unsafe tattoos or piercings, vertical transmission–from mother to child (in utero, during delivery, breastfeeding).

Myths

HIV is NOT transmitted through:

  • Mosquito bites
  • Toilet seats
  • Swimming
  • Holding hands
  • Coughing
  • Sharing space with an HIV positive individual
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