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A quick breakdown on how HIV can be transmitted.

This topic aims to show ways in which HIV can and cannot be transmitted. It ties in with a recently published topic found here http://www.drtanandpartners.com/how-does-hiv-enter-the-body/.

 

This topic will be split into 3 parts; Definite ways of HIV transmission, theoretical ways of transmission, and no way of transmission.

 

Bear in mind that in order for HIV to be transmitted fluid from a positive person has to come into contact with the negative person. Semen and blood hold high loads of the virus but saliva and vaginal fluid hold very little.

HIV-modes-of-transmission

According to Singapore Ministry of Health UPDATE ON THE HIV/AIDS SITUATION IN SINGAPORE 2014.

Definite ways of HIV transmission (risk will be listed as risk per 10000 – so 1/10000 means that for every 10000 people who engage in that activity, 1 person will become infected.

  • Blood transfusion – 9250/10000 (this is only with HIV infected blood which is very rare nowadays as every donor blood sample is screened before use).
  • Needle sharing in intravenous drug use – 63/10000.
  • Needlestick injury – 23/10000.
  • Receptive anal sexual intercourse – 138/10000.
  • Insertive anal sexual intercourse – 11/10000
  • Receptive penile-vaginal sexual intercourse – 8/10000
  • Insertive penile-vaginal sexual intercourse – 4/10000
  • Receptive and insertive oral sexual intercourse – low (too low for accurate numbers).

 

HIV_transmission-risk

Estimated risk per exposure to HIV transmission: assume that the ‘source partner’ is always HIV-positive. For a partner of unknown status, the risk is affected by the prevalence of HIV in the relevant community – i.e., the chance that the partner does in fact have HIV. Unless otherwise stated, the sexual acts are always without a condom.

 

Theoretical ways of HIV transmission:

  • Blood contact onto an open wound – possible but an unlikely scenario as open wounds should be tended immediately in order to reduce the risk of other infections. The risk of a bacterial infection would be higher than an HIV infection.
  • Blood contact onto mouth or eyes – again possible but extremely unlikely unless you happen to be in a horror movie.
  • Dried blood – although HIV can survive in dried blood for several days, the environment has to be favourable and transfer this way is very very unlikely.

 

No risk of HIV transmission:

  • Breathing the same air as someone.
  • Touching a toilet seat or door knob.
  • Drinking from a water fountain.
  • Hugging, kissing or shaking hands (although kissing may transfer fluids the level of virus in saliva is so low as to make the risk negligible).
  • Sharing utensils.
  • Sharing gym equipment.
  • Skin to skin contact with an HIV positive person even if they happen to have fluid of unknown origin on them (particularly applies to commercial sex workers).
  • Biting or scratching that does not break the skin or draw blood.
  • Essentially, as mentioned above, fluid-fluid contact is necessary for transmission – if this hasn’t happened then there is no risk for HIV.

 

I hope this helps answer most questions that concern people over possible ways of HIV transmission – if new questions pop up I will try and add to this topic to help allay people’s fears.

 

 

 

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560 Comments

  1. Sir I touched a lady Virginia with my finger,so after 1hour I used the same finger without washing them to remove some particles off my tooth.sir is there any possibility of contacting hiv

  2. David

    Doctor,

    I had an massage, the masseuse and I were both naked. There was NO intercourse, however I saw her touching her vagina with her index finger.

    Assuming her index finger had some vaginal fluid, and she touched my penis glans, will I get infected with HIV or any other STDs?

  3. Ken Tan

    Doctor I went for a Massage, I saw the masseuse touching her private and she accidentally touched mine.

    There is no sexual intercourse, will I get an STD from this? Because she briefly brushed until my privates

  4. Hi Doctor,people get cuts and abrasions in public places all the time. Should I worry about contracting HIV from accidental superficial cuts from objects in public places like broken glass, wires or other sharp edges in parks or playgrounds if these objects have cut a HIV positive person a short while beforehand with remnants of their blood on them within a time ranging from seconds to a few minutes before I accidentally cut myself on them? Please do answer as I’m driving myself nuts worrying if HIV could be transmitted this way.

  5. BigBoy

    hey Dr Tan

    I hope you can asses my risk of HIV infection.

    My Co-worker has HIV and he touch my phone to see some stuff on my phone..I had a cut(open skin from scratching) on my middle finger. Once he give me back my phone, my exposed skin accidentally touch the surface where he touched. I am i at risk of contracting the virus?What if my co-worker has blood stain on it,am i still at risk?

    Paranoia Overload!!

    Sincerely Thanks.

    • Dr. Julian Ng

      Hi,

      I would consider the risk is zero. Casual contact is not considered a risk for HIV transmission.

      • BigBoy

        Even though I have a open skin (abrasions Wound) on my finger?

  6. Hi doctor, is it possible to get hiv if you accidentally cut yourself on a sharp object, ie the edge of the table that has been contaminated with HIV blood?

    Like when you accidentally scratch your arm against any object with a sharp edge that has been contaminated by HIV blood and where your skin is broken and bleeding from the impact(ie superficial cut) and if the HIV blood present is fresh.

    • Hi Doctor, just to make it clearer, people get cuts and abrasions in public places all the time. Should I worry about contracting HIV from accidental superficial cuts from objects in public places like broken glass, wires or other sharp edges in parks or playgrounds if these objects have cut a HIV positive person a short while beforehand with remnants of their blood on them within a time ranging from seconds to a few minutes before I accidentally cut myself on them? Please do answer as I’m driving myself nuts worrying if HIV could be transmitted this way.

  7. Hi Dr, I kissed someone in early Jan. Not sure if the person have any disease. Since late Jan, I have been losing weight and not having good appetite. Any sign of infection by the hiv ?

  8. Prestige

    Hi doctor..I had sex last night..I stuffed cotton wool in my vagina though…twice..but my boyfriend didn’t cum inside me..at least he didn’t..
    But I’m still curious and scared please..I’m I at any risk?.even with the cotton wool and no semen?
    Thanks

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      I am not sure why you inserted cotton wool inside your vagina. It does not help with reducing STD risk nor pregnancy, and it is not very safe to do so. Unprotected sex puts you at risk of STD and pregnancy even if he did not ejaculate inside your vagina. If you are concerned, please see a doctor to get an assessment.
      Click here to contact us

    • Dr. Julian Ng

      Hi,

      If the sex was unprotected, there is always risk of HIV transmission. Also, I would advise you not to put any foreign bodies (like cotton wool) into the vagina as there is a risk of getting other infections especially if some of the cotton wool is left inside the vagina. Also stuffing your vagina with cotton wool does not prevent HIV transmission. Wearing of condom greatly reduces the risk if HIV transmission.

  9. Hi doctor, is it possible to get hiv if you accidentally cut yourself on a sharp object, ie the edge of the table that has been contaminated with HIV blood?

    • Like when you accidentally scratch your arm against any object with a sharp edge that has been contaminated by HIV blood and where your skin is broken and bleeding from the impact(ie superficial cut) and if the HIV blood present is fresh.

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