By Dr. Sougata Kumar Hui, General Physician
The transmission of HIV Virus from an infected person to a healthy person can only take place through an immediate contact with bodily liquid or discharge, such as:
a) Blood (along with menstrual blood)
b) Vaginal discharge
c) Rectal Fluids
e) Breast milk
It is your blood that has the maximum concentration of the virus, after semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. So, in order for the transmission to take place; these bodily liquids must come into contact with a damaged tissue or a mucous membrane (present inside the mouth, rectum, penis and vagina) or be straight away injected into your blood vessels either by a syringe or needle.
How is HIV transmitted through Sex?
1. Through Oral Sex:
There are often such cases found where a person becomes infected with HIV virus through oral sex. It is, therefore, advised to not have blood, HIV-infected semen and vaginal fluid in your mouth. Nonetheless, oral sex is believed to be a low-risk activity.
2. Sexual Intercourse (Vaginal and Anal):
Vaginal and anal intercourses are considered as high-risk practices; because there is always a likelihood of the HIV virus entering through the mucus membranes, sores or cuts (which can be very small or hardly noticeable).
3. Sharing Syringes or Needles:
Sharing syringes, needles or other instruments for injecting is known to be a high-risk exercise. With injection needles, you can transmit blood from one person to another quite easily. So if somebody infected with the virus has already used a needle himself and shares the same with another person, then he/she can be put at a very high risk of HIV.
4. Mother to Child: Mother to child transmission is now rare because pregnant women who are HIV-positive are normally given medications to prevent the fetus from getting infected. However, it is possible for an HIV-infected mother to pass the virus directly before or during birth, or through breast milk. Breast milk contains HIV, and while small amounts of breast milk do not pose significant threat of infection to adults, it is a risk for infants.