A lot of people may already know the different ways HIV can be transmitted but it is important to remind everyone how it is and is not transmitted. The most common way HIV is transmitted is through body fluids such as breast milk, blood, vaginal fluid, and semen and yet they are not the only ways.
Can HIV be transmitted through sexual intercourse?
Yes. You may contract HIV if you have unprotected sex with someone who is infected with it. This includes any of the following forms of sexual intercourse:
- Oral sex
- Anal sex
- Vaginal sex
The most efficient way that we know of, to this day, to protect yourself is to use a condom. But other forms of protection such as a dental dam or other latex that create a barrier will do. In addition, avoid activities that can result in bleeding such as “rough sex.”
If you are going to use lubrication with a condom, do not use an oil-based one. Rather, go for water-based because the former can cause damage to latex condoms. To decrease your risk of contracting HIV, you may also take a medication called “PrEP” which stands for “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” every day.
Please note that having sex with a person who has HIV doesn’t automatically mean you will contract the virus. However, the likelihood is very high particularly if your partner is not taking any effective medication for HIV. Thus, using condoms and taking PrEP significantly lowers the risk.
How is HIV transmitted through blood?
If the blood of someone with HIV gets in contact with you internally, you may contract the virus. This can happen in the following examples:
- Getting some blood splattered in your eyes
- Blood transfusions
- Accidental needle pricks
- Getting body piercings or tattoos using unsterilized needles
- Sharing needles used for intravenous drugs
It should be noted that this virus CANNOT be transmitted through fluids like urine, tears, perspiration or fecal matter
How HIV is NOT transmitted
After listing the different ways that can lead to HIV transmission, it is important to clarify some points and clear some misconceptions about the disease. It should be noted that this virus CANNOT be transmitted through fluids like urine, tears, perspiration or fecal matter or through any of the following acts:
- Living day-to-day life with a person infected with HIV
- Using sex toys that you alone use (not being shared with others)
- Engaging in cybersex (online sex)
- Engaging in phone sex
- Dry kissing
Unlike what some people may say, it is also not possible to get HIV through blood transmitted by mosquito bites and that of any other insects. Never share needles with anyone. Make sure every syringe you are using is new and sealed.
Is HIV hereditary?
Yes, it is possible for a baby inside the womb to get HIV if the mother is infected with HIV. In addition, even if the virus wasn’t passed on to the baby during the pregnancy, the baby might still contract the virus through the mother’s breast milk. The first few months of life of the baby is when they are the most at risk.
Thus, for any new mom who is infected with HIV, it is ideal that you bottle feed your babies with formula milk, not breast milk in order to avoid any potential risk of transmission.