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HIV is transmitted through: unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex with an infected person(s), blood transfusion with HIV-contaminated blood and blood products, by using contaminated syringes, injection needles or other contaminated sharp instruments, from an HIV-infected mother to her child.

How HIV is not transmitted?
You should not be fearful of interacting with persons who are living with the disease. HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day contact in social settings, schools or in the workplace. You cannot be infected by shaking someone’s hand, by hugging someone, by using the same toilet or drinking from the same glass as an HIV-positive person, playing sports with or by being exposed to coughing or sneezing by anyone living with HIV.

Does HIV only affect homosexuals and people who inject drugs?

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No. Anyone who has unprotected sex, uses un-sterilized injecting equipment, or has a transfusion with HIV contaminated blood can become infected. Infants can be infected with HIV from their mothers. Worldwide, 90% of HIV cases are the result of sexual transmission, and about 65% of HIV cases occur among heterosexuals.

Limiting your risk of getting HIV through sex

You may:

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Remain faithful in a relationship with an uninfected equally faithful partner with no risk behaviour.
  • Practice only non-penetrative sex (elimintate vaginal and anal intercourse).
  • Use male condoms (preservatives) or female condoms (femidoms) correctly each time you have penetrative sex.
  • Get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Reduce the number of your sexual partners.
  • Delay the age you begin to have sexual relations.

Preventing other ways of HIV transmission

  • Avoid injecting drugs.
  • If you inject drugs, always use new disposable needles and syringes.
  • Ensure that any blood or blood products that you might need are tested for HIV.
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Body piercing, tattoo and sharing razors

A risk of HIV infection exists if non-sterile instruments are used. Instruments that are intended to penetrate the skin should be sterilized and used once, then disposed of or sterilized again. Any kind of cut using a non-sterile razor or knife can transmit HIV. Sharing razors, knives or other sharp instruments with anyone is not advised, unless they are fully sterilized after each use.

Mother-to-child transmission

Transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her child can occur during pregnancy, during labour or after delivery through breastfeeding.

Reduction of risk of mother-to-child transmission methods:

  • Treatment with antiretroviral drugs.
  • Caesarian section.
  • Avoiding breastfeeding, but only when replacement available and safe. If not, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months.

Mosquito bites and HIV infection risk

HIV is not spread by mosquitoes or other biting insects. Even if the virus enters a mosquito or another sucking or biting insect, it cannot reproduce in insects. The insect cannot be infected with HIV and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it feeds on or bites.

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“Basic Facts about HIV Prevention”

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