How Can HIV be Transmitted?

No STD has caused more panic or received more attention that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV.) For the past forty odd years, truth has mingled with rumor and plain falsehoods when it comes to this most frightening of STDs. Despite all the attention, confusion still persists around the nature of HIV, and who’s susceptible to it. Today, though, we’re going to attempt to put to bed one of the biggest questions surrounding it: how can HIV be transmitted? Let’s get started so that you can learn the facts about HIV.

Bodily Fluids

First, to debunk one of the cruelest myths regarding HIV: you can’t “catch” HIV from merely touching someone with HIV. Nor can you get it from sharing a toilet, or borrowing a pen, or any mundane act that normally occurs between two people in a public setting. That’s not how HIV functions. Indeed, HIV won’t survive outside the host’s body for any significant period of time. Instead, for one person to pass HIV to another, it needs to be done through certain bodily fluids. They are: blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk. (Note the exception of sweat and spit form this list.) If you interact with a person in any way that doesn’t include any of those fluids, you can’t get HIV –– period.

How is HIV Spread During Sex?

Since HIV only persists within a host, it can only be transmitted within certain fluids through a mucus membrane or directly into the bloodstream. In short, HIV can be transmitted through any of the following sexual acts: vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex. (Though the risk of transmission through oral sex is a great deal lower.)  Regarding vaginal and anal sex, a person with HIV can pass the virus to their partner regardless of position or gender. In layman’s terms: it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, gay or straight, or if you’re giving or receiving –– if your partner has HIV, you can contract it as well during unprotected sex.

In much rarer instances, you can transmit HIV through open-mouth kissing in which both partners have open sores or bleeding gums. You can also contract HIV if someone with it bites you hard enough to draw blood. (This is not common.)

Non-Sexual Ways HIV is Spread

In addition to all the aforementioned means of transmission, HIV can also spread through other certain actions. The most publicized being the sharing of a needle with an infected person. Furthermore, receiving a blood transfusion from an infected party can also cause the spread of HIV. However, HIV transmission is possible simply through the transference of blood through an open wound or membrane. As this article from the early 90s points out, though it may occur, this sort of transference is practically unheard of.

Additionally, mothers with HIV can pass the virus onto their offspring during pregnancy, through vaginal fluids during birth, and when breastfeeding.

Important Things to Remember

Plain and simple, HIV is a scary thing to deal with. But you can deal with it. Though, you shouldn’t assume that because of your sexual preferences, you can’t get HIV. As discussed above, anyone who engages in acts that involve the transference of certain bodily fluids can get HIV. Which makes it all the more important that you get tested regularly for HIV and other STDs. It’s unlikely you’ll notice any outward symptoms from HIV immediately after contracting it, for instance. In fact, without proper screening, it could take you weeks, or even months to properly identify the virus. Especially early on, HIV is hardly distinguishable from the flu.

A Word from Same Day STD Testing

Getting tested for STDs is something you should do for your own health and wellness. But you should also take responsibility to get tested out of respect for your partners. You can find a testing clinic near you, or else call us here at 844-394-8520 for a confidential consultation. If you feel unsure at all –– get tested today. You won’t regret it.

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