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Human immunodeficiency virus, or simply HIV, is a deadly viral strain responsible for causing acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is a life-threatening disease that weakens the immune system of patients. And the most concerning fact about AIDS is that there is no cure for this immune system disease. Finding a cure for AIDS is still a challenge for medical researchers all across the globe. Considering this fact, the only practical solution left for dealing with this disease is preventing HIV transmission.

How does HIV Infection Spread?

Upon medical examination, it is found that HIV is present in some bodily tissues and fluids. Nevertheless, remember that not all tissues or fluids of an infected person are capable of spreading this deadly virus to another healthy person. It can be transmitted only under certain conditions. The spreading of HIV from an infected individual takes place via specific bodily fluids, which are blood and blood products, breast milk, vaginal secretions, pre-ejaculation fluid, and semen.

For HIV transmission to take place, the above mentioned bodily fluids must come in direct contact with the mucosa, an open wound, or damaged cell of another individual. Another route is by sharing the same syringe or injection needle with an infected person. Over here, the virus is most likely to get delivered in the bloodstream. To be more precise, transmission of HIV occurs when specific fluids containing the virus enters the body directly, or comes in contact with the mucous membrane linings of the rectum, urethra, or vagina.

Female to Male
During unprotected sexual intercourse, an HIV infected female transmits this deadly virus to her sexual partner. This holds true for male to female HIV transmission, in which the male partner has tested positive. Spreading occurs when the infected sexual secretions come in contact with oral, genital, and mucous membranes (rectum, vagina, eyes, inside of nose) of the other partner. So, the risk of transmission between sexual partners is undoubtedly very high. While vaginal sex and anal sex carry a high risk of transmission, the risk of infection with oral sex is lesser. Having protected sex is the solution to avoid such consequences.

Mother to Child
A child born to an HIV positive mother is very likely to get the infection. The virus can be transmitted to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or delivery, and also while breastfeeding. Nevertheless, there are certain treatment medications available, which are formulated to minimize the risks of transmitting HIV from mother to child. So, infected women who are planning to become pregnant should seek stringent medical advice to avoid future complications for themselves and their babies. Regarding postnatal HIV transmission from infected mother to child, the baby should not be breastfed at any cost.

In all the cases, transmission of HIV also occurs via other incidences, where infected blood gets into the body of another person. Say for example, transfusion of infected blood, and sharing syringe or other surgical instruments with an infected person are equally responsible for virus transmission. In rare cases, health care professionals get infected with the virus, while delivering injections to HIV positive patients. Sometimes accidents do happen and the needle containing infected blood gets stuck in the fingers, or the blood enters through open wounds.

Transmission of HIV: An Overview

In the United States alone, there are about 1.1 million HIV positive patients. This statistical number is expected to rise with time, as new HIV infections are reported each year. The HIV transmission probability is dependent upon two factors, number of infective HIV virions present in infected blood or body fluid, and the number of host cells available at the contact site. With new antiretroviral intervention, infected individuals are able to live a longer life.

As far as HIV transmission rates are concerned, they have reduced significantly in recent years. Public awareness programs are being taken up to make people understand about the routes of transmission, and precautions to prevent the spread of HIV. Simply sharing clothes or staying under the same roof are not a concern, as this virus cannot survive outside the body and environmental transmission is not possible.