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Transmission and Prevention

Compared to other viruses, HIV is not easily passed on from one person to another. HIV is found in some body fluids, so for HIV to be passed from one person to another, an infected (positive) person must pass the virus to an uninfected person during sex, through needle sharing or from mother to baby (during birth or breastfeeding). HIV can be transmitted through blood transfusions, although in the UK blood is now screened for HIV. 

To prevent transmission during drug use, users should always use fresh needles and never share drug equipment with others. This also applies to those injecting steroids into their muscles.

Sex is the most common way for HIV to be transmitted as the virus is found in semen (cum) and vaginal/ anal secretions. HIV can be transmitted (passed on) through vaginal, anal or oral sex.

A very effective way to minimise risk during sex is by using a barrier, such as a condom, femidom or dental dam properly. To help reduce the risk of the barrier tearing, always use a water based lubricant and never an oil-based lubricants as they will weaken the protection. 

More rarely, transmission has occurred during oral sex. To reduce this relatively small risk, a condom or dental dam can be used for oral sex.


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