Ways & How

How to Contract HIV

How to Contract HIV

There are four main routes by which HIV is transmitted to another person – sexual contact; using contaminated needles or syringes; from infected mothers to their babies during birth or breast-feeding; and infected blood and blood products. Knowing about these risks is important so they can be avoided and therefore decrease a person’s chance of contracting the virus. HIV is a lentivirus, which means it can remain undetected for years, producing no symptoms for the person infected. But it can eventually cause AIDS, a life-threatening disease that can weaken the body’s immune system, eventually destroying a person’s ability to fight infections and certain types of cancer. According to the World Health Organization, HIV infection is a pandemic. Since 1981 when it was first discovered until today, this infectious disease killed more than 26 million people.  About 0.6 percent of the world’s population is infected with HIV. There are four main routes by which HIV is transmitted to another person – sexual contact; contaminated needles or syringes; from infected mothers to their babies during birth or breast-feeding; and infected blood and blood products.



g about how a person can contract HIV is important so those actions can be avoided and therefore decrease a person’s chance of contracting the virus. Here are such factors.

  1. Engaging in unsafe sexual contact. Any direct sexual contact can lead to HIV transmission, including vaginal sex, anal sex and oral sex. Unsafe sexual contact with several partners increases the risk of exposure to the virus.

    In women infected with HIV, the virus is present in the vaginal secretions. In infected men, the virus is found in the semen. Engaging in any sexual contact with someone who is HIV-positive increases the risk of contracting HIV.

    Homosexual men who engage in anal sex with an HIV-positive partner can also contract HIV. It is possible for either partner to be exposed to the virus during anal sex.

    Anyone engaging in oral sex with an HIV-positive person can also contract this virus. Although the possibility of transmission is less compared to anal and vaginal sexual contact, the infection can still happen, especially when one partner has an oral abrasion, cut or sore.

  2. Sharing of contaminated needles. Unhygienic needles can transmit HIV from one person to another during tattooing, body piercing and during administration of drugs. Aside from unsafe sexual intercourse, needle-sharing is likewise regarded as common mode of contracting HIV.

    To address this, health providers worldwide agree that only sterile syringes and needles should be used. Any unclean and unsterilized tools should not be used because they can bring about the spread of the virus.

  3. Mother-to-baby transmission. The mother-to-baby transmission happens when an HIV-positive mother gives birth to her baby.  Usually, the transmission of the virus occurs while the baby is passing through the mother’s birth canal. It can also happen during breast-feeding.

    Doctors now advise pregnant women to undergo HIV testing. If the woman tests positive, she can be given an antiretroviral medicine, such as Nevirapine. Taking antiretroviral medicines can significantly reduce the possibility of infecting the baby.  Even when the mother is about to give birth, the doctor can still administer an antiretroviral medicine in order to regulate and eventually control the level of HIV found in her blood. In that way, the baby might avoid infection during delivery.

  4. Blood transfusion transmission. This happens mostly in any health care facility during blood donation for HIV patients. Although thorough screening of blood products in developed countries greatly eliminates the chance of spreading HIV, the rate of infection is still slightly higher in Third World nations.

In a hospital setting, the spread of the virus can still occur when the body is in close contact with an HIV-positive fluid such as seminal fluid, saliva or blood. That is why health personnel, especially those in direct contact with the HIV-positive patients, are mandated to observe precautionary measures for their health safety while on duty. People infected with an STD, such as herpes, gonorrhea or syphilis, have a higher risk of contracting HIV. When the person is infected with both HIV and another STD, that person has a higher risk of transmitting HIV to another person. People who have an STD are advised to use latex condoms during sexual relations with their partner. Casual contact, such as the sharing of glasses and silverware, can result in the transmission of HIV.  Although kissing is not an effective mode of contracting the virus, there is still a risk, especially if either person involved is experiencing bleeding in their mouth. Even if you know the common routes of how to contract HIV, it is still safer to submit yourself to an HIV test at least once a month, especially if you have multiple sexual partners. Contact your local health center for information about testing. More than anything else, the best way to stay safe from HIV is to avoid risky behaviors and take precautionary measures when necessary.

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