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32) HIV 101: Modes of Transmission





MODES OF TRANSMISSION

There are five body fluids that can transmit HIV, namely:

  • Blood
  • Semen (including pre-cum/pre-ejaculatory fluid)
  • Vaginal/Cervical fluids
  • Rectal/Anal fluids
  • Breast milk

Note: Feces, saliva, nasal fluid, urine, vomit, tears, and sweat  DO NOT contain enough HIV to infect a person, unless they have blood mixed in them and that a person has significant and direct contact with them.





HOW IS HIV TRANSMITTED?

HIV is spread through body fluids primarily by:

1. Unprotected Sex (vaginal, anal, oral)
Vaginal and and sex are both high risk if no condom is used, and considered low risk if a condom is used. Oral sex is a lower risk activity, with or without a condom. Body fluids deliver the virus into the bloodstream through microscopic breaks in delicate lining in the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth.

2. Sharing Needles (illicit drugs, steroids, tattoos, piercing)
Sharing needles through injection puts a person in contact with blood. Needles or drugs that are contaminated with HIV-infected blood can deliver the virus into the person's body.

3. Occupational Exposure
Those who have the greatest risk for this type of HIV transmission are the healthcare workers. HIV-infected blood or other fluids come in a contact with a healthcare worker through needle sticks or cuts. They can also get infected when the infected fluid gets splashed into their eyes, mouth, or into an open sore or cut.


4. Mother to Child Transmission (breast milk; during gestation and delivery)
Babies have constant contact with their mother's body fluids (amniotic fluid and blood) through pregnancy and childbirth. After birth, infants can get HIV from drinking infected breast milk.

5. Receiving Blood or Blood Products (blood transfusion)
This mode of transfusion is a result of a blood transfusion with infected blood, or an organ transplant from an infected donor.





COMMON MYTHS:

HIV CANNOT be transmitted from casual contact, which includes:

  • Kissing
  • Hugging
  • Shaking Hands
  • Sharing Food and Utensils
  • Toilet Seats
  • Mosquito Bites


References:

aids.gov
cdc.gov
pnac.org.ph
aidsguelph.org