How Do You Get HIV?
HIV does not discriminate-everyone is at risk. It is important familiarize yourself with the ways in which you can become infected, as well as ways you can prevent becoming infected or infecting others. Transmission of the HIV virus occurs in 3 main ways:
1. Sexual transmission
2. Transmission through blood
3. Mother-to-child transmission
The virus spreads through semen and vaginal fluid. Unprotected oral sex, anal sex, and vaginal sex all put you at risk of infection. If you are uncertain of your partner’s status, USE A CONDOM.
Transmission through Blood
Sharing or reusing needles for intravenous drug use is high-risk behavior for contracting HIV. This type of transmission is not limited to “street drug” use; this includes needles used to inject hormones and steroids. Tattoos and piercings should only be done by licensed professionals using needles that have been thoroughly sterilized.
HIV positive mothers can infect their babies during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. This is called perinatal transmission, and it is the most common source of HIV/AIDS infection amongst babies and children in the United States. Research has shown that the risk of perinatal transmission is reduced if HIV positive women take specialized medication during pregnancy. HIV positive women should not breastfeed, as the virus is also spread through breast milk.