Should you get an HIV test? The answer is yes - if you feel you need to be
tested or suspect you may have been exposed to the HIV virus.
How HIV is transmitted
HIV is transmitted through direct contact with infected blood or other
body fluids such as vaginal fluids and semen. In order to be transmitted,
the infected fluid must come into direct contact with your bloodstream or the
lining of your mouth, vagina, or anus. Therefore, you could become exposed
to HIV by:
- sharing needles with an HIV-infected intravenous drug user
- having vaginal or anal intercourse with an HIV-infected person
- engaging in oral sex with an HIV-infected person
- coming in direct contact (through an open wound or an injury with a needle)
with HIV-infected blood
To reduce your risk of exposure use condoms for all sexual contacts (including
oral sex) and apply proper cleansing procedures after contact with HIV-infected
blood or other materials.
What sexual activities carry no risk?
- sexual fantasies (it is amazing where your mind can take you!)
- dry kissing
- mutual masturbation (as long as no visible blood is involved)
- use of clean sex toys
What about day-to-day contact?
It is very difficult to become infected with HIV in the course of ordinary daily
activities. For instance, there is no risk of getting the disease from:
- contact with inanimate objects (doorknobs, utensils, towels, etc.) that are
not visibly contaminated with blood
- contact with intact skin (such as shaking someone's hand)
- contact of blood with your intact skin
Remember, even if you are exposed to HIV-infected blood, there is no risk of
transmission if the blood only comes in contact with your intact skin and is
washed away promptly.
It pays to be informed. HIV testing is readily available. If you have any questions,
ask your doctor or contact your local HIV testing facility - they are there