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Transmitting and preventing HIV

From Next steps • 1 December 2008

HIV is present in semen (cum), pre-cum, blood, vaginal fluid and breast milk. It is also present in the fluid lining of the rectum and anus (this may also contain small amounts of blood).

The most common ways it can be transmitted are through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and sharing needles. HIV is also present in some other body fluids including saliva and tears, but not the amount necessary to transmit the virusA small infective organism which is incapable of reproducing outside a host cell. to another person. Neither urine nor sweat contains HIV. It is not passed on through kissing, hugging, sharing cups or plates, touching, rubbing, massage, or from toilet seats.

If you are having penetrative anal sex (receptive or insertive) or vaginal sex, using condoms and water-based lube is the most effective way to prevent passing on HIV to your partners.

If you use needles, always using a clean fit and never share mixing equipment including spoons, filters, rinsing water, tourniquets or glasses to avoid passing on HIV. Clean fits are available at needle exchanges and some AIDS Councils. You can also contact the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League (AIVL) on 02 6279 1600 to find out about where to get clean fits in your area. If you do need to share a fit, it’s advisable to clean it first. AIVL can provide you with information on cleaning fits. If you cut yourself, it is a good idea to clean up any blood and cover the wound.

Where can I get more information?

Contact your local AIDS Council, PLWHA organisation or AIVL for more information. Alternatively, there are many good websites providing information on HIV including:

  • Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAOAustralian Federation of AIDS Organisations. AFAO is the peak non-government organisation representing Australia's community-based response to HIV/AIDS. AFAO's work includes education, policy, advocacy and international projects. ) - www.afao.org.au
  • National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWHA)- www.napwa.org.au
  • The Body (United States) - www.thebody.com
  • AIVL - www.aivl.org.au

Next steps

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This Resource was first published on 1 December 2008 — more than five years ago.

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