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Most people get
HIV by having unprotected sex with someone who has
HIV. HIV can be spread even through unprotected oral sex.footnote 1 Another common way of getting the virus is when injecting drugs and sharing needles with someone
who is infected with HIV.
You have an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV through
sexual contact if you:
People who inject drugs or steroids, especially if they share
needles, syringes, cookers, or other equipment used to inject drugs, are at
risk of being infected with HIV.
Babies who are born to mothers who are infected with HIV are also at
risk of infection.
HIV may be spread more easily in the early
stage of infection, when the first flu-like symptoms
of HIV (acute retroviral syndrome) are present, and again
later, if symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
The risk of getting HIV from a
blood transfusion or a donated organ is extremely low in the United States. All donated
blood and organs are screened for HIV
antibodies and HIV RNA, which can detect HIV before
antibodies develop. This low risk doesn't decrease the importance of
limiting the use of donated blood (when possible) or encouraging people who know they are going
to have surgery to donate their own blood (called an autologous donation).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HIV
screening as part of routine blood testing. You and your doctor can decide if
testing is right for you.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Oral sex and HIV risk: CDC HIV/AIDS facts. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/oralsex.htm.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerPeter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
Current as of:
September 9, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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