How contagious is HIV?
HIV cannot reproduce outside of the human body or be spread through air or water, insect bites, saliva, tears, sweat, casual contact like shaking hands or sharing dishes, or closed-mouth or social kissing. It is generally spread through sexual contact (anal, vaginal, or oral) with an infected person, sharing needles or drug works (needles and syringes used to “shoot” drugs into the vein) with an infected person, or from an infected mother to her baby through delivery or breastfeeding.
Can I get HIV from a blood transfusion?
Yes, however the U.S. blood supply is among the safest in the world. Nearly all people infected with HIV through blood transfusions received those transfusions before 1985; the year HIV testing began for all donated blood.
The Public Health Service has recommended an approach to blood safety in the United States that includes stringent donor selection practices and the use of screening tests. U.S. blood donations have been screened for antibodies to HIV-1 since March 1985 and HIV-2 since June 1992. Blood and blood products that test positive for HIV are safely discarded and are not used for transfusions.
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I have HIV, I take medication and my partner is not infected. What is the chance that he/she might be infected through sex?
There is some information suggesting that the chances of transmitting HIV through sex are lower when the infected partner is taking medication. There is less information about how these medications affect the chances of spreading HIV in men who have sex with men (MSM), who are in the highest risk group for HIV infection in the United States.
Because persons with undetectable levels of HIV (which medications can bring about) still carry the virus, transmission of the virus will still occur in some couples. Therefore, it is important that individual couples use other proven prevention methods, such as condoms, to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to the uninfected partner.
What factors may make it more likely to spread HIV through sex?
HIV transmission through sex occurs in the exchange of genital fluid such as semen and vaginal secretions.
The presence of certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can significantly increase one's chances of contracting HIV infection. For more information, visit CDC’s page on HIV and STDs.
Can HIV still be transmitted is if both partners are infected?
Yes, when both partners are infected with HIV it is still possible for one partner to transmit his or her virus to the other. This situation is called “superinfection” in which the one person is infected with a second strain of virus. To protect against superinfection, couples should consider using proven prevention methods (such as condoms).
How effective are latex condoms in the fight against HIV?
Latex condoms, when used consistently and correctly, are highly effective in preventing sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Research on the effectiveness of latex condoms in preventing heterosexual transmission is both comprehensive and conclusive. The ability of latex condoms to prevent transmission has been scientifically established. It should be noted that condom use cannot provide absolute protection against HIV. The surest way to avoid transmission of HIV is to abstain from sexual intercourse or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is not infected.
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