man and woman lying in bed holding condom

Ways HIV is not transmitted

Jeruto is HIV positive. She hugs Otieno and some of her sweat lands on his chin. Eeeew! Will Otieno contract HIV?

There is a lot of inaccurate information out here about how you can or cannot get HIV. The former South African president Jacob Zuma once said that he showers immediately after sex to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. 

Let that sink it!

Zuma aside, thanks to medical innovation, you can avoid getting HIV or passing the virus to your partner or baby thanks to the various prevention option that is available. Showering after sex is not one of them. 

How do you get HIV?

HIV can be found in blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal fluids, and anal mucus. It can be passed on when these fluids enter another person's body.

For example, through sex. The virus in someone's vagina fluids or semen can pass into their partner's body mucous membrane of their vagina, anus, or the top of their penis.

Once the virus is in their blood. It makes copies of itself.  HIV can also be passed on from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding or by sharing injecting equipment.

Its TRUE HIV cannot be transmitted:

  • By mosquitoes, ticks, or other insects.
  • Through saliva, tears, or sweat.
  • By hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes,  kissing someone who has HIV.
  • Through other sexual activities that don’t involve the exchange of body fluids (for example, touching).
  • Through the air.
  • Though sharing food
  • Through sneezes or coughs

How can I reduce my risk of getting HIV?

Anyone can get HIV, but you can take these steps to protect yourself from HIV.

  • You can protect yourself and others from getting HIV by using condoms,
  • Taking PrEP
  • Not sharing needles or injecting equipment
  • Taking treatment reduces the amount of virus in your body. Treatment can lower your viral load to undetectable levels, meaning you can't pass HIV to your partner or baby.
  • Getting tested for HIV with your partner before you have sex.
  • Limiting your number of sexual partners. The more sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to have a partner with an STI or HIV
  • Getting tested for other STIs too with your partner. Having an STD can increase your risk of getting HIV or spreading it to others.
  • Being faithful to your partner. Having sex with just one partner can lower your risk for HIV and other STIs. Your partners also have to be faithful for this to work.

It is important to note that these steps only work best when used together. No single step can protect you from every single type of HIV.

What other lies have you heard about how HIV can be transmitted? Talk to us in the comments section. 

Did you learn something new?

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