How Quickly Can HIV Be Transmitted?
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) spreads or passes from one person to another through certain bodily fluids. These are as follows:
- Pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal fluids
- Rectal fluids
How quickly can HIV be transmitted? The obvious answer is via sex. However, it can be much more complicated than just that. Jokes aside, to enable transmission, the virus contained in these fluids must enter the bloodstream of an infected individual through a mucous membrane (usually present in the vagina, penis, rectum, and mouth). Transmission can also occur using injectables like syringes or needles.
Here are common ways HIV spreads from one person to another:
- Vaginal sex – One activity that best explains how HIV can be transmitted is having vaginal sex with an HIV-positive person without using condom or PrEP medications. Although it is less risky compared to receptive anal sex, many reports concerning HIV-positive cases involve vaginal sex.
- Anal sex – For this type of sex, transmission is high, particularly to the receptive partner. Since the rectum’s lining is thin, it is easier for HIV to enter the body and start its infectious influence. The bottom (receptive partner) is more prone to having HIV than the top (insertive partner).
- Shared needles or syringes – Using shared needles or syringes can put you at risk of getting HIV. Some injection equipment may be contaminated by blood carrying the virus.
Less common ways:
- Oral sex – Although the chances for HIV acquisition through oral sex are meager, some factors may increase one’s risk of getting the infection. These factors include genital sores, bleeding gums, oral ulcers, mouth sores, and the presence of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).
- Breastfeeding – An HIV-positive mother can transfer the virus to her baby during breastfeeding. Fortunately, HIV antiviral drugs are available to lower the risk of transmission and prevent HIV from infecting newborn babies.
- Blood transfusions/organ transplants – Since the advancement in accurate testing involving blood and organ donations, the cases of people having HIV because of these procedures are low and rare. Thanks to the development of medical devices, it can be easier to detect any form of infection present in the blood or organs.
How quickly can It be transmitted?
There are different factors influencing your chances of getting HIV. These factors also provide the answer to how quickly HIV can be transmitted. Consider the following:
- Viral load – This refers to the measurement or amount of HIV in an individual’s blood. The infection’s chances of spreading to another individual are high if they have a high viral load.
- Having multiple sexual partners – Acquiring HIV if you have multiple sexual partners is more likely to occur compared to having only one.
- Not using protection – If you engage in unprotected sex multiple times with a person with HIV or with someone whose status is unknown, your chance of getting HIV is immense.
- Diagnosed with an STI – One of the risk factors for HIV infection is having a sexually transmitted disease. If you are diagnosed with any major STIs (genital ulcers, urethritis, syphilis, or gonorrhea), your likelihood of HIV acquisition is increasingly high.
The transmission can be quick and straightforward if you are susceptible to the infection. Since not all people develop symptoms of HIV, medical professionals recommend getting tested after exposure to the virus. If you receive a positive result, obtain the necessary medical treatment by taking HIV medicines.