HIV/AIDs can be spread from one person to another through the following:
HIV is spread mainly by:
- Having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV.
- Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV.
- Being born to an infected mother. HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
- Being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers.
- Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV.
- Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver’s mouth mixes with food while chewing, and is very rare.
- Being bitten by a person with HIV. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken.
- Oral sex
- Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids.
- Deep, open-mouth kissing if the person with HIV has sores or bleeding gums and blood is exchanged. HIV is not spread through saliva.
There are several steps you can take as an individual to reduce risk of getting infected with HIV/AIDs.
They include the following:
- Using condoms consistently and correctly.
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviours. üg. reducing number of sexual partners and avoiding drugs and substance abuse.
- Talking to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). ü Talk to your doctor right away (within 3 days) about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you have a possible exposure to HIV.
- Getting tested and treated for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and encourage your partner (s) to do the same.
- Encouraging your partner to get and stay on treatment if he/she is HIV –Positive. ü ART reduces the amount of HIV virus (viral load) in blood and body fluids. If taken consistently and correctly, ART can keep people with HIV virus healthy for many years, and greatly reduce their chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners.
- Knowing your HIV Status through voluntary testing.
What can I do to stop HIV stigma?
- There are many ways we can all fight HIV stigma in our lives and in our community, whether you are HIV-positive or HIV-negative:
- Break the silence surrounding HIV stigma in our community. Talk about your experiences, fears and concerns about getting HIV or transmitting HIV with friends, a counselor.
- Learn how to better deal with and react when a person tells you they are HIV Positive.
- Take responsibility for the prevention of HIV. The prevention of HIV is a responsibility that all sexually active share – HIV-positive, HIV-negative and HIV status unknown.
- Challenge attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to HIV stigma. Don’t be a silent witness to it when it happens around you.
- Avoid using language that overtly stigmatizes others.
- Treat people with HIV as you would treat anyone else: with respect, empathy, and compassion.
- Get informed about how to protect yourself from HIV and be confident in that knowledge. We know how to prevent HIV.
- If you have difficulty playing safe, take charge of your sexual health and get the help you need to ensure you do not get infected with or transmit HIV.
Do I have to have sex with HIV-positive person to fight HIV stigma?
- No, of course not. Each of us has the right to decide whom we want to have sex with. However, HIV-negative people who are sexually active should realize they are very likely having sex with HIV-positive people and that that is okay. You can have sex with a HIV-positive person and avoid HIV transmission. You just need to play safe.
- Realistically, a lot of the time that we have sex we don’t talk about HIV. The problem is that we expect HIV-positive people to tell us they have HIV (and the law requires disclosure when there is a significant risk of HIV transmission during sex). But, when HIV-positive people ‘do the right thing’ we often reject them. At the same time, many of us are okay to have sex with a person without any discussion of HIV.
In a sexual situation, how should I react to someone who has just disclosed that they are HIV- positive?
- Think about how you would feel if you were in his/her shoes. How would you want someone to react?
- Thank him/her for being honest and having the courage to tell you. It is very difficult to tell someone you have HIV, especially in a sexual situation.