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HIV 101
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Transmission
& Prevention
1. How is HIV transmitted?

You can get infected with HIV from anyone who is infected, even if they don't look sick, and even if they haven't tested HIV-positive yet. The blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk of people infected with HIV has enough of the virus in it to infect other people. Most people get the HIV virus by:

1. Unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral) with someone who is HIV-infected.
Women are at greater risk of HIV infection through vaginal sex than men, although the virus can also be transmitted from women to men.
Anal sex (whether male-male or male-female) poses a higher risk to the receptive partner, because the lining of the anus and rectum are extremely thin and filled with small blood vessels that can be easily injured during intercourse.
There are far fewer cases of HIV transmission attributed to oral sex than to either vaginal or anal intercourse, but oral-genital contact poses a clear risk of HIV-infection, particularly when ejaculation occurs in the mouth. This risk is increased when either partner has cuts or sores, such as those caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), recent tooth-brushing, or canker sores, which can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream.

2. Sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV-infected.
Laboratory studies show that infectious HIV can survive in used needles for some time. Therefore, one should never reuse or share syringes, or drug preparation equipment. This includes needles or syringes used to inject illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as steroids.
Other types of needles, such as those used for body piercing and tattoos, can also carry HIV if not sterilized properly.

3. Infection during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding (mother-to-infant or vertical transmission).
Any woman who is pregnant or considering to become pregnant and thinks she may have been exposed to HIV even if the exposure occurred years ago should seek testing and counseling.
Mother-to-infant transmission carries a 30% risk of HIV infection but has been reduced with the use of medications.
Pregnant women are presently tested for HIV routinely in Malaysia, and those who are tested positive are provided with drugs to prevent transmission and counseled not to breast-feed.

4. Other ways.
Getting a transfusion of infected blood
used to be a way people got AIDS, but now the blood supply is screened very carefully and the risk is extremely low. Other ways HIV can be transmitted include
organ or tissue transplant and needle-prick injuries
These are much less common ways of transmission and are mainly due to human error or negligence.

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