How can you get HIV?

Only five body fluids can contain enough HIV to infect someone: blood, semen (including pre-cum), rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk.

HIV can only get passed when one of these fluids from a person with HIV gets into the bloodstream of another person – through broken skin, the opening of the penis or the wet linings of the body, such as the vagina, rectum or foreskin.

HIV cannot pass through healthy, unbroken skin.

The two main ways that HIV can get passed between you and someone else are:

  • through unprotected sex (anal or vaginal sex without a condom)
  • by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs (including steroids)

HIV can also be passed:

  • by sharing needles or ink to get a tattoo
  • by sharing needles or jewelry to get a body piercing
  • by sharing acupuncture needles
  • to a fetus or baby during pregnancy, birth or breast-feeding

HIV cannot be passed by:

  • talking, shaking hands, working or eating with someone who has HIV
  • hugs or kisses
  • coughs or sneezes
  • swimming pools
  • toilet seats or water fountains
  • bed sheets or towels
  • forks, spoons, cups or food
  • insects or animals

Anyone can be infected with HIV, no matter…

  • your age
  • your sex
  • your race or ethnic origin
  • who you have sex with

 

Read more:

What are HIV and AIDS?

Protecting yourself from HIV

Getting tested for HIV

Treating HIV

 

This information was provided by CATIE (Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange).

For more information, contact CATIE at 1.800.263.1638 or info@catie.ca.

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