HIV Transmission

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that causes the weakening of the body’s immune system.

The immune system is important to us because it is our body’s natural system of defence against bacteria and other viruses.  So therefore, someone living with HIV who is not on treatment, can have a much more difficult time fighting off a number of ailments, such as the common cold, than an HIV negative person.

Where is HIV Found?
HIV can be found in particular body fluids and may be transmitted when we share these fluids with another person.  Body fluids that can transmit HIV are:
  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Breast milk
  • Vaginal fluids
How is HIV Transmitted?
For transmission to occur, the body fluids of an HIV positive person will need to come into contact with an HIV negative person.  This can occur a number of ways, such as:
  • Sexual contact
  • Childbirth (without access to HIV treatment)
  • Breast feeding
  • Injecting drugs
Transmission is also dependent upon the volume of fluid and the level of virus in the body, which can vary greatly between people depending on whether they are on treatment, as well as a person’s adherence to their treatment.  It is important to understand that HIV is not transmitted through all body fluids, as many fluids do not contain sufficient levels of the virus to be passed on, such as urine, saliva, vomit, sweat, tears and faeces.
How can you prevent HIV transmission?
  • Practise safe sex – using male and female condoms during anal and vaginal sex can prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and also prevent other STIs and pregnancy. Although oral sex is a low risk activity for transmitting HIV, condoms and dams can be used for protection. You can order free condoms through Wrapped’n’Ready.
  • Use safe injecting practices – do not share injecting equipment. Clean needles and syringes are available at NSPs across Queensland.
  • Universal/standard precautions – using universal precautions in health care settings prevents the transmission of HIV, as well as other BBVs.
  • Use of infection control practices – infection control practices prevents the transmission of BBVs from equipment used for tattooing and body piercing.
  • Get a regular sexual health check – getting a regular HIV test and sexual health check, and knowing your status is important to help reduce passing HIV on to others.
  • HIV Treatments can also reduce HIV transmission – Read more about Treatment as PreventionPEP and PrEP for an understanding on how treatment can work as a method of prevention.

Treatment As Prevention

TasP refers to using HIV medication to dramatically reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to others.

PrEP

A tablet that you can take to reliably prevent HIV. Lots of people, especially gay and bisexual men, take PrEP to prevent HIV.

PEP

A medication, if started within 72 hours, may prevent HIV after a potential exposure to the virus through sex (or injecting).

HIV Prevention

As well as condom use, over the last decade, HIV treatment has come a long way and now plays a vital role in prevention.

Our trained team is here to help you should you have any questions or need support. You can contact QPP toll free from a Queensland land-line on 1800 636 241 or (07) 3013 5555 nationally, email us at info@qpp.org.au or use our contact us form.

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