HIV lives in the blood and some body fluids. To get HIV, one of those fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood. The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:-
• blood, including menstrual blood
• vaginal fluids
• breast milk
• lining inside the anus
Other body fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine don’t contain enough of the virus to infect another person.
Most people diagnosed with HIV in the UK acquire the virus through unprotected vaginal and anal sex. It’s also possible to catch HIV through unprotected oral sex but the risk is much lower and so it’s very rare.
Other ways of getting HIV include sharing needles, syringes and other injecting equipment. Also, sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV.
It can be passed from mother to baby before or during birth or by breastfeeding but thanks to antenatal screening programmes, most pregnant women find out about their HIV status. If necessary they can receive HIV medication and so now, hardly any babies are born with HIV in the UK.
If you think that you may have contracted HIV in the last 72 hours then please visit your local sexual health clinic or A&E department of a hospital immediately. This is very important as you can be offered post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP is a treatment that can prevent HIV infection after the virus has entered a person's body.
To help you work out if PEP is appropriate for you or someone you’ve had sex with you can call THT(Terrence Higgins Trust) Direct on 0808 802 1221