HIV 101: How is HIV Transmitted?

Everyone has questions when they find out they are positive. In this series of posts, here are several of the most common, plus straightforward answers to help you navigate this new life of yours.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

March 05 2014 4:00 AM ET UPDATED: April 21 2014 3:48 PM ET

Let’s start with how it is not transmitted. Since the virus cannot survive outside the body, you cannot get it from toilet seats or shared cups or utensils. You can’t get it from kissing or from spit, since it’s not transmitted in your saliva. It is also not transmitted in sweat or urine. You can’t get it from a swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, mosquito or rodent bites, tattoos, or ear/body piercings. Only four bodily fluids are known to carry HIV in quantities concentrated enough to infect another person: blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is one of these fluids from an HIV-positive person that has to come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue, or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe), for HIV transmission to possibly occur. 

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