How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is only transmitted through certain bodily fluids from someone who is HIV+ and has a detectable viral load, meaning that the amount of HIV in their body is detectable with tests.

HIV can be transmitted through blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk.

In the UK, the majority of HIV infections are as a result of unprotected sex with someone who is HIV+ and is not on medication, most likely because they do not know their status. To reduce your risk of HIV infection always use a condom when having vaginal, anal and oral sex.

There are also a small number of HIV infections every year as a result of sharing injecting equipment. Thanks to good needle exchange programmes in the UK the number of HIV infections from needle sharing has decreased hugely in the past decade. Our advice is to not inject drugs, but if you do to use sterile injecting equipment and not share with others.

If you are worried you have been exposed to HIV in any of the above ways within the last 72 hours, you can request a course of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) from your GP. PEP is a course of medication that halts any HIV cells in your body from taking hold.