Monday, April 15, 2024

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is primarily transmitted through certain bodily fluids that contain the virus. The most common modes of HIV transmission include:

Unprotected sexual intercourse: HIV can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner, particularly if there are open sores, cuts, or other breaks in the skin or mucous membranes. Both receptive and insertive partners are at risk of HIV transmission.

Sharing contaminated needles or syringes: HIV can be transmitted through the sharing of needles or syringes contaminated with the blood of an HIV-infected person, particularly among people who inject drugs. Sharing injection equipment without sterilization can directly introduce the virus into the bloodstream.

Mother-to-child transmission: HIV can be transmitted from an HIV-infected mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. However, the risk of mother-to-child transmission can be significantly reduced with appropriate medical care and interventions, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) during pregnancy and childbirth, cesarean delivery (in certain cases), and avoidance of breastfeeding in regions where safe alternatives are available.

Blood transfusions and organ/tissue transplantation: While rare in regions with strict screening protocols, HIV transmission can occur through transfusion of HIV-infected blood or blood products, or transplantation of organs or tissues from an HIV-infected donor.

Occupational exposure: Healthcare workers and others may be at risk of HIV transmission through accidental needlestick injuries or exposure to HIV-infected blood or other bodily fluids in the workplace. However, the risk of occupational HIV transmission can be minimized through the use of standard precautions, including appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves, goggles), safe handling and disposal of sharps, and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) with antiretroviral medications.

HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, such as hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing food or utensils, or using public restrooms. Additionally, HIV is not transmitted through saliva, tears, sweat, or urine, unless these fluids are visibly contaminated with blood.

Understanding the modes of HIV transmission and adopting preventive measures, such as practicing safer sex, using sterile needles and injection equipment, and seeking prompt medical care in the event of occupational exposure, can help reduce the risk of HIV infection.

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