HIV is found in the blood, semen or vaginal fluid of someone who is infected with the virus. You may be at increased risk of becoming infected with HIV if you:
o Engage in anal, vaginal or oral sex with men who have sex with men, multiple partners or anonymous partners without the use of a condom.
o Inject drugs or steroids where needles/syringes are shared.
o Have a sexually transmitted infection, such as syphilis, genital herpes, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis.
o Have been diagnosed with hepatitis, tuberculosis or malaria.
o Exchange sex for drugs or money.
o Are exposed to the virus as a fetus or infant before or during birth or through breastfeeding from a mother infected with HIV.
o Engage in unprotected sex with someone who has any of the risk factors listed above.
Quick Facts about HIV Transmission:
o HIV cannot survive for very long outside of the body.
o HIV cannot be transmitted through routine daily activities such as using a toilet seat, sharing food utensils or drinking glasses, shaking hands, or through kissing.
o The virus can only be transmitted from person to person, not through animals or insect bites.
o People infected with HIV who are taking antiretroviral therapy can still infect others through unprotected sex and needle-sharing.
Ten Questions That Every Positive Woman Should Ask Her Doctor
A checklist from Vicki Cargill-Swiren, MD, to take to your next appointment:
1. How’s my overall health?
2. Do I have any specific problems—and what can I do to address them?
3. What’s my CD4 count and viral load?
4. If on meds, are they working? If not, when should I start?
5. Do I have any STDs?
6. Is my Pap smear normal? How often do I need one?
7. What can I do to improve my overall health?
8. Do you know of any support groups for HIV positive women?
9. What can I do if I am depressed, using drugs or drinking a lot?
10. What other issues might be affecting my health?
And three more to ask if you’re having a baby:
1. How can I prevent HIV transmission to my child?
2. Are my current HIV meds safe during pregnancy?
3. Should I have a vaginal delivery or a C-section?