Anonymous on November 23, 2011

How HIV spread?

I want to know how HIV spread. 

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on November 23, 2011


Thanks for asking more about how HIV is spread. Understanding how HIV can be transmitted can help people protect themselves from the disease.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be transmitted in body fluids such as vaginal secretions, semen, blood and breast milk. Some of the ways body fluids from an infected person can enter the body include cuts in the skin, open sores, intravenous drug use (with shared needles) and unprotected sex.

Mothers with HIV can also pass the virus to their babies before, during or after birth (with breast feeding) if she’s not taking HIV medications. Luckily, in the United States, HIV screenings for pregnant women usually help them know of their HIV infections so they can begin treatment and avoid harming their children.

How can you protect yourself from HIV? Some ways that help reduce your risk for HIV include practicing safer sex, avoiding intravenous drug use, and reducing the number of people you have sex with.

And of course, remember to get tested for HIV. Getting routine screenings for HIV can help detect an HIV infection before it does too much damage to the body. When HIV treatment begins at the right time, people with HIV can live longer and stay healthier.

Still have questions? You can learn more about HIV transmission in our Expert Guide to HIV.


Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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