How do you get infected with HIV?

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is not spread easily. You can only get HIV if you get infected blood or sexual fluids into your system. You can’t get it from mosquito bites, coughing or sneezing, sharing household items, or swimming in the same pool as someone with HIV.

Some people talk about “shared body fluids” being risky for HIV, but no documented cases of HIV have been caused by sweat, saliva or tears. However, even small amounts of blood in your mouth might transmit HIV during kissing or oral sex. Blood can come from flossing your teeth, or from sores caused by gum disease, or by eating very hot or sharp, pointed food.

To infect someone, the virus has to get past the body’s defenses. These include skin and saliva. If your skin is not broken or cut, it protects you against infection from blood or sexual fluids. Saliva can help kill HIV in your mouth.

If HIV-infected blood or sexual fluid gets inside your body, you can get infected. This can happen through an open sore or wound, during sexual activity, or if you share equipment to inject drugs.

HIV can also be spread from a mother to her child during pregnancy or delivery. This is called “vertical transmission.” A baby can also be infected by drinking an infected woman’s breast milk.

For more information check Pregnancy and HIV

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 20, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.