The Most Common Ways to Transmit HIV

• Unprotected Sex
• Sharing Needles or Syringes
• Mother to Child – transmission before, during or after vaginal delivery and/or during breast feeding
• There is potential risk for infection anytime HIV infected fluids come in contact with open wounds, sores or mucous membranes.

Common HIV Misconceptions

• HIV is NOT an airborne virus nor is it transmitted through food, water, or bloodsucking insects.
• HIV is NOT transmitted through casual or social contact such as touching hugging, holding, hands, or kissing.
• HIV is NOT spread through sharing food utensils, plates, cups, glasses or silverware.


There is currently no vaccine for HIV. You can reduce your risk from contracting or spreading HIV by:
• Abstaining from sex or use condoms or other barrier protections
• Limiting your number of partners and always knowing your HIV status
• Avoid sharing personal items; i.e., razors, toothbrushes, needles, etc.
• The less HIV virus you have in your body the less likely it is you can transmit HIV to your partners though transmission may still occur at any level of the virus.



HIV is not AIDS. HIV is a virus that if left untreated, can cause AIDS. Because of advancements in treatment and testing, it is a rare case that HIV progresses to AIDS at all. It is okay to combine the two words (i.e. HIV/AIDS) but you should never use the word “AIDS” to mean HIV. Now what exactly is HIV?


The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes HIV infection. When infected, the virus replicates and can attack the infection-fighting T-cells ¹ of the body’s immune system. Loss of T-cells makes it difficult for the immune system to fight infections. If left untreated, HIV can progress and cause Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the most advanced stage of infection.


You can contract HIV through mutual blood or semen contact. This most often occurs during unprotected sex or by sharing needles during injection drug use. There are also cases where a mother passes the virus on to her newborn or transmits the virus via breastfeeding.

HIV Basics

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