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Did You Know?
Studies suggest that for every 10,000 exposures, the risk of an HIV-infected person transmitting the infection to another is negligible during activities such as biting, spitting, throwing semen or saliva, and sharing sex toys.

Since 1981, more than 1.8 million people in the US are estimated to have been infected with HIV, including the deaths of over 650,000 patients. Today, more than 1.1 million people are living with HIV. The astounding number of people suffering from this disease is enough to give it a status of global catastrophe. Most countries have implemented AIDS awareness campaigns to educate people regarding the rapid spread of this disease. Yet, many people are still in the dark about the exact mode of transmission of HIV, the rate of transmission, and the probability of contracting this disease.

The general tendency is to assume that you contract AIDS as soon as you are exposed to the human immunodeficiency virus. Many people wrongly assume that having sexual intercourse just once with an infected person is enough to get you infected. However, these notions only arise from insufficient knowledge and the justified fear of the dreadful disease. Contrary to what most people think, HIV transmission rates are very low at a single instance of exposure, and are mostly dependent upon the volume of body fluid transmitted and the density of HIV in the fluid. The virus is more concentrated in the cervical, vaginal secretions, semen, and blood. It is comparatively lower in tears, saliva, sweat, or other body fluids.

How is HIV Transmitted

HIV can be transmitted from one person to another in the following ways:

From an infected mother to her child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding
Injury due to infected needle stick
Infected blood transfusion
Bite of an infected person
Male-to-male sexual contact
Male-to-female sexual contact
Contact between wounds or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or body fluids
Exchange of blood while kissing an infected person, who is having bleeding gums or sores

HIV Contraction Statistics

According to the statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are at far more risk of HIV transmission than women. In fact, 3 out of 4 HIV patients are men.

The data reveals that homosexual males are at an increased risk than heterosexual males. Thus, man-to-man sexual contact is the leading mode of transmission followed by heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use. The reason homosexual males have a higher probability to get infected is that HIV has a greater transmission rate through broken mucous membranes than through penile-vaginal penetration. Anal sex, which is rampant among homosexual males, causes mucous membranes in the anus to break, thereby, providing a free entryway to HIV.

Another interesting fact about HIV transmission is that HIV-infected males are more likely to transmit the disease to females during penile-vaginal intercourse. This is because the vagina is vulnerable to infections due to bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing agents. According to the statistics, although the number of male patients has remained fairly even, since the last couple of years, the rate of transmission in women has slightly decreased.

The risk of transmission from oral intercourse is comparatively lower than anal or vaginal sex. However, the risk of infecting the receptive partner increases with ejaculation and the presence of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and mouth sores.

Studies have found that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission from an infected woman to a man by 50% to 60%.

Consistent use of condoms and antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of HIV transmission by 80% and 96%, respectively.

According to the CDC, the estimated HIV transmission risk per 10,000 exposures for various types of activities is presented in the following table:

ActivityRisk per 10,000 Exposures
Blood Transfusion9,250
Sharing syringes while injecting drugs63
Needle stick injury23
Anal intercourse (Receptive)138
Anal intercourse (Insertive)11
Penile-vaginal intercourse (Receptive)8
Penile-vaginal intercourse (Insertive)4
Oral intercourse (Receptive)Low
Oral intercourse (Insertive)Low
Biting and kissingExtremely low

Since there is no permanent cure for HIV/AIDS, the best cure is to prevent it altogether. Encouraging people to have safe sex is one way of preventing the rapid spread of this dreadful disease. Remember, these statistics just provide mathematical figures based on the average, but you may be at a far greater risk in the real world.