How Can You Get HIV?
Is it easy to get HIV? One of the world’s leading health issues is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It is an infection that damages the immune system, paving the way for different health conditions. Without proper treatment, it can evolve into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
Although not all people develop symptoms of the infection, its earliest signs include skin rash, night sweats, muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, and flu-like symptoms. Since these symptoms are not enough to tell if someone has HIV, testing is necessary to diagnose the infection and execute immediate treatment if the virus is detected in the blood.
How can you get HIV? The virus strives in certain bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Can you see where we’re going with this? Transmission occurs when/if these fluids come into contact with a person’s mucous membrane (rectum, vagina, or penis). This process indicates the onset of infection.
How do these fluids enter a person’s body system? Below are specific activities whereby HIV spreads and influences the body with its infectious impact.
Vaginal or anal sex – Engaging in unprotected vaginal or anal sex can put you at high risk of HIV infection. In vaginal sex, the virus enters the body through the delicate tissues located in the vagina and cervix. For males, the vaginal fluid containing HIV passes through the opening of the tip of the penis and enters the body. Besides these transmissions, if open sores or wounds are present during unprotected vaginal sex, HIV infection is feasible.
Compared to vaginal sex, anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for active HIV transmission. The anus has a thin lining that can tear easily, which allows the virus to enter during anal sex. The bottom or the receptive partner is more at risk of getting the infection, although the top can also get the disease if scratches or open wounds are present during the sexual intercourse.
Injections – Sharing needles or syringes is one way HIV spreads. This is common to people who practice drug injections and unknowingly spread the infection to others. Some of these needles or syringes may be contaminated with blood carrying the virus and transmit it to HIV-negative people.
If you practice drug injection frequently, make sure to use sterilized and clean needles before administering the shots. Aside from HIV, sharing needles can also put you at risk of getting hepatitis infections.
Rare ways of HIV transmission
Oral sex – Also known as fellatio, oral sex involves putting the penis into the mouth. Compared to vaginal and anal sex, oral sex does not put you at risk of getting this infection. There have been no cases of HIV involving oral sex; however, certain factors can contribute to the infection. These factors include the presence of oral ulcers and bleeding gums during fellatio.
Blood transfusions – Before the advancement in the medical field, blood transfusions served as one of the causes of HIV transmission. However, the risk today is rare because of the availability of rigorous blood testing. Before donating blood or organs, blood testing is necessary to ensure that any form of the virus does not infect the person.
Do not rely on the symptoms when determining if you have HIV. If you suspect having the infection, get tested immediately. Reach out to your healthcare professional or visit your nearest clinics to get checked and tested. Furthermore, do not forget to use protection when having sex and avoid engaging in drug injections to prevent HIV acquisition.