HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Infection - What Happens
How HIV is spread
HIV is spread when
semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter
another person's body, usually through:
Sexual contact. The virus may enter the
body through a tear in the lining of the
urethra, or mouth. Most cases of HIV are
spread this way.
Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person:
- Shares needles, syringes, cookers,
cotton, cocaine spoons, or eyedroppers used for injecting drugs or
- Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item
that is contaminated with HIV.
HIV may be spread more easily
in the early
stage of infection and again
later, when symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
A woman who is infected
with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or
How HIV is not spread
The virus doesn't survive well outside the body. So HIV cannot be spread through casual contact with an infected person, such as
by sharing drinking glasses, by casual kissing, or by coming into contact with the person's sweat or urine.
It is now extremely rare in the United States for HIV to
be transmitted by
blood transfusions or organ transplants.