HIV is transmitted through an exchange of certain body fluids – blood, vaginal secretions, semen, pre-ejaculation and breast milk. Most people get HIV through
- Unprotected sex (vaginal, anal or oral) with an infected person.
- Sharing drug needles or syringes (shooting drugs) with an infected person.
- Pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding when the mother is HIV-positive.You cannot become infected with HIV by hugging, touching, sneezing, coughing, playing sports, sharing eating utensils, or sharing a bathroom with a person who is infected with HIV. Mosquitoes, fleas and other insects also do not transmit HIV.
What are ways to reduce the risk of HIV or other STD transmission?
- Choose not to have sex, or make an agreement with a partner who is HIV-negative to be sexually faithful to each other, and stick to it. If you or your partner is HIV-positive, talk with your health care provider about how to reduce your risk, including using latex condoms or dental dams.
- Always use a condom for vaginal or anal sex, and barrier methods, such as a condom or dental dam, for oral sex.
- If you are HIV-positive and are pregnant, see your health care provider to get appropriate treatment. Treatments are available to significantly reduce the risk of passing HIV to your child during pregnancy and delivery.
- Do not share needles or syringes for any kind of injection drug use.
- Get tested! Ask partners to do the same.
What is the risk of HIV and other STD transmission from oral sex?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oral sex is not “safe sex.” While the risk of getting HIV through oral sex is lower than the risk of getting it through vaginal or anal sex, just how much lower is hard to know. It is possible to contract HIV and other STDs, such as herpes or gonorrhea, through unprotected oral sex. To reduce your risk, experts advise using a condom or other barrier method, such as a dental dam, during oral sex.