Transmission and Prevention of HIV
How is HIV passed on?
HIV can be passed on through infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk. The most common ways HIV is passed on are:
Can you get HIV from oral sex?
Oral sex carries a much lower risk than vaginal or anal sex, but HIV can still be passed on through cuts or ulcers in the mouth if they come into contact with infected bodily fluids.
Can you get HIV from kissing?
No. HIV cannot be passed on through:
Can women living with HIV still have a baby?
Yes. HIV can be passed from mother to child, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce the possibility of the child contracting HIV to less than one per cent, including giving the mother and child antiretroviral HIV drugs, delivering the child by Caesarean and not breastfeeding the baby.
Could I get HIV?
If you are sexually active or share needles you could be at risk from getting HIV. Although anyone can become infected, some communities in the UK have higher rates of infection, such as gay and bisexual men and Black African men and women.
How can I protect myself from HIV?
Always use a condom when having vaginal or anal sex. You also may want to use a condom or dental dam during oral sex although the risk of transmission of HIV is much lower. Always use a condom that carries the European CE safety mark. You can get free condoms from a family planning or sexual health clinic. Never share needles, syringes or any other injecting equipment.
What do I do if I've put myself at risk?
If you think you have placed yourself at risk from infection by HIV you can ask for a free and confidential test at your local sexual health clinic. If you are within 72 hours of an incident of possible exposure to HIV, ask for PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) treatment from a sexual health clinic or at your nearest hospital accident and emergency department. PEP treatment can stop you becoming infected with the virus after you have been exposed to HIV. The sooner treatment is begun the higher the probability the treatment will be effective.