HIV Transmission Rates

The human immunodeficiency virus is also known as HIV. It is a viral infection that affects the immune system in humans. It can take over the effectiveness of the immune system, using the immune cells to engage in reproduction of the virus. HIV can lead to AIDS, which can severely weaken the immune system and can be fatal if not treated. The HIV virus is passed from one person to another through various means. The HIV transmission rates vary according to the number of viral particles the infected person has and the method of transmission.

What Are HIV Transmission Rates in Different Ways?

The HIV virus can be found in certain body fluids. These include the following:

  • Semen and "pre-cum" which is pre-seminal fluid
  • An infected person's blood
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Breast milk in lactating mothers
  • Rectal mucus or fluids from the rectum

However, some body fluids are not infectious. This includes tears, feces, sweat, saliva, and urine. In these fluids, the HIV transmission rate is nonexistent.

In order to get infected, the bodily fluids must get into your blood through some kind of mucous membrane. This includes the mouth, the urethra, the rectum, and the vaginal lining. Any breaks in the skin can take on the virus and an injection with an HIV-contaminated needle can also result in an infection. Let's look at the HIV transmission rates in these circumstances one by one:

1.   Blood

According to the CDC, when it comes to blood alone, the HIV transmission rate is 9,250 times out of 10,000. You can come in contact with a person's blood when an infected person gets a cut or laceration and you also have an opening in the skin or get the blood in your mouth. Sharing infected needles lead to an HIV infection in 63 out of 10,000 cases. If you get stuck with an infected needle but no blood is injected, the HIV transmission rate is only about 23 out of 10,000 situations. When an infected person bites another, the chances of HIV transmission are considered negligible.

You can also get infected through a blood transfusion from someone who has the HIV virus. Fortunately, the blood has been tested for HIV since 1985 when it is given for donation. If the blood is tested positive for the HIV virus, it is thrown out, so the rates of HIV transmission for donated blood are nearly zero.

2.   Intercourse

Vaginal intercourse is the usual method by which HIV is infected throughout the world. Studies have shown that there is an increased HIV transmission rates in male to female intercourse when compared to female to male intercourse. This is because there are many more men with the disease when compared to women. Besides, women have a larger surface area inside the vagina and these tissues can chafe during sex and get infected. For a man to be infected, the virus must enter via an abrasion or cut on the penis or through infection of the urethra. The rate of infection to the woman with vaginal intercourse is about 8 out of 10,000 exposures. The rate for a man is about 4 out of 10,000 exposures.

Anal intercourse can also lead to HIV transmission at a rate of about 138 out of 10,000 exposures. The person who is receiving sex is at the highest risk of getting an infection, because there can be anal chafing and transmission through HIV-infected semen. The insertive partner in anal sex is much less likely to get an infection with HIV. It is about 14 times less risky than being the receptive partner. Pre-cum can also lead to an HIV infection, although at a lower rate. Condoms must be used to reduce the HIV transmission rates.

Penile-oral sex has a low rate of HIV transmissibility. When a person gives a blow job to an infected partner, there is a rare chance of getting HIV from that person. It can still happen but the rate is very low. Open cuts or sores in the mouth can increase the risk of transmission of the virus when giving a blow job.

3.   Mother to Baby

A mother can give HIV to her infant in utero or through breastfeeding. Transmission of HIV can occur at any time during a woman's pregnancy and can occur at the time of delivery when the blood from the mother mixes with blood from the fetus. Breastfeeding can also be a cause of concern, especially if the mother doesn't know she is suffering from HIV. In order to prevent this from occurring, newly pregnant mothers are always tested for HIV. This means that, if the test is positive, the mother can take medications against HIV in order to reduce the transmission rates in pregnancy and during labor. The baby can still get the virus via the breast milk, even if the mother takes medications against the virus. According to the NIH, about 1,760 babies were infected by the mother in 1992. This rate dropped dramatically so that only 142 babies were infected by the year 2005.

How to Prevent You from HIV

There are things you can do to keep from getting an HIV infection. Here are some tips:

  • Know the HIV status of yourself and your partner. Get tested before engaging in sex.
  • Engage in less risky sex. Oral sex has lower HIV transmission rates than vaginal and anal sex. Anal sex is the riskiest of all.
  • Always use condoms for any type of sex you have. Learn about how to properly put on a condom.
  • Have few sexual partners. The more sexual partners you have, the greater are your chances of getting HIV.
  • Get treated for any STD you might have and have your sexual partners get treated as well. If you have an STD, you can increase your chances of having HIV or passing it along.
  • Speak with your doctor about getting pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV. It involves taking medicine for HIV every day if you are always at a high risk of getting it.
  • Do not ever inject drugs. If you do use drugs, make sure the needles are always sterile and don't share needles with others.

HIV and AIDS are severe so that you'd better know more about them by watching the video below.

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