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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.


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).



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.



Feel free to email your queries, feedback and suggestions on what other topics you want to see in the comments section below.

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  1. Dear Doctor, physiologically I am in great fear of contacting HIV virus. This abstain me from having sex with strangers and not even with protected sex. Eventually it caused me to be frustrating and unbalance. So I ended up visited a sex worker. The fear of HIV virus made me not having sexual intercourse with her but I only fingering into her vagina. And I wore a rubber grove plus putting on a Dulex condom onto my fingers while fingering into her vagina.
    After that I checked for any damages on the grove and condom by putting water into them to test, and everything were fine.
    In this case, am I safe from HIV virus? Should I go for a test? Or am I over worry and fear? Thank you.

  2. i bought a new toilet seat i have a cut on my penis everyone use that toilet seat let say there was blood on the toilet seat if i was to sit down & my cut on my penis touch the toilet seat blood can i get hiv and if there was no blood on the toilet seat but i have a cut on my penis can i get hiv that way or in both ways i just explain im really scared about this ?

  3. i had a cut on my face and i wash my face with a bar of soap people use to wash there hands let say the person wash there hand and they have a cut on there hand and i go use it and wash my face with the bar of soap people use if they have a cut and i have it on my face can u get hiv or are u at risk ?

  4. Any risk difference if the person went for a handjob only once, and went to handjob 4 times? No sex and all but just touchin boob and hairy vagina. What im referring to is std/sti infection doctor. I know hiv is no risk for this.

  5. dr, i had expose from csw last 2 weeks, there are not involved any penetration sex, oral sex). i was received protected handjob by her for an minute. the concern parts was, she was take out her clothes and pants (i am not sure she got take out underwear or not) but if her hand got vaginal fluids then touch some object such as clothes and pants then open the condom for me and perform handjob for me. am i at the risk ?

  6. I have a cut on my penis from mastubation and i clean the cut woth soap and water is that good to clean a wound ? I dont put no hydrogen peroxide pr alchohol just water and soap but the bar of soap my father grab the soap box from the garbage to put the soap back in the box it came from can u get hiv that way or from any exposure having it out

  7. Is penis outer shaft skin of uncircumcised penis considered mucous membrane or permeable to hiv
    What if i hold my penis shaft skin with vaginal fluid on finger with no cuts

  8. dr, my expose was handjob with condom. the gal was handjob for me around 2 to 3 minute then i masturbate myself. i recall she and check her hand without any scratch and open wound and blood. i checked the time when she masturbate me, she was wear pants. but i was concern the below:
    1. if she have body fluid on her hand and touch other object such as clothes, pants and phone. then touch my penis with condom (during handjob for 2 minute), is this will be the risk?

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