HIV is transmitted, or passed on, from one person to another through body fluids that contain the virus. It can be transmitted through semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions, blood or breast milk.
HIV can be passed on through:
- Unprotected vaginal sex or anal sex where a condom, PrEP or PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is not used.
- Sharing equipment to inject drugs.
- From a woman to a baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding.
Using condoms, PrEP, PEP and/or safe injecting equipment can help to prevent HIV. Effective treatment for people living with HIV can also prevent HIV transmission. You can find out more about each of these prevention options on this site.
HIV CANNOT be passed on through saliva, kissing, spitting, touching, biting, or scratching. HIV can’t be passed on from toilet seats or sharing eating utensils. People don’t pick up HIV from contact with discarded needles.