Transmission of HIV can be through unsafe sexual practice with an infected partner, blood and blood product transmission, and mother to child transmission.

The HIV  lives in the blood and other body fluids such as semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and breastmilk. Rarely, HIV can be in fluids like saliva, sputum, tears, sweat, nasal discharge, urine and vomitus.

For HIV to cause infection the virus must get into the bloodstream of uninfected person through open cuts or wounds of the skin, vaginal or rectal mucosal membrane, penis and the mouth, or through direct injection with sharp objects that were used by an infected person.



  • HIV can also be transmitted through transfusion of blood or blood products that have not or are poorly screened for the transmissible disease such as HIV. Researches have shown that 2% to 4% of HIV transmission is contributed by blood and blood products transmission. Notably, mosquito and other biting insects cannot transmit HIV.

Further, HIV can be transmitted by sharing sharp objects that have not been sterilized such as syringes, razorblades, shaving machines, and medical tools used during different medical procedures, or traditional marking, tattooing, and circumcision. About 0.23% of the HIV cases are due to transmission through sharing sharp objects. Sharing untreated syringes is a common practice among injectable drug abusers which poses a high risk of HIV transmission among them.

Moreover, health practitioners frequently get infected through skin pricking with sharp tools that were used on an infected patient.


More than 90% of the adults in the Sub Sahara are infected with HIV through unsafe sexual practice with the infected partners. The risk of transmission is higher through vaginal and anal sex, compared to the oral sex which has low transmission rate and occurs only if the infected person has oral wounds or open cuts. Other sexual activities that do not involve body fluids exchange such as touching, hugging, hand holding and shaking cannot transmit HIV.

Unprotected sex has highly contributed to more HIV cases all over the world, while the heterosexual contributing to more HIV cases. By estimation the rate of HIV transmissions is 10 times more among the homosexual partners.

  • There is high risk of transmission through anal sex and although there is low risk of transmission through oral sex. The risk of being infected increases if one has other sexual transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamydia and open cuts and wounds in genitals.

High viral load in an infected person is a very lethal factor in sexual transmission and transmission from mother to child.


  • HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding, this is the third most common way of HIV transmission all over the world without treatment the risk of HIV transmission during or after delivery is about 15- 45%.
  • Various risk factors such as delayed diagnosis of HIV status of the pregnant woman, high viral load, poor use or adherence to Anti-retro viral therapy (ART) and having unprotected sex during pregnancy may predispose the child to high risk of infection.
  • The risk of HIV transmission from mother to child can be reduced up to 5% by using treatment and correct ways as instructed during clinics before and after pregnancy.

1 comment

  • Elly JK

    Am so glad to visit Daktari mkononi because I have lean a lot of things about HIV/AIDS… Thanx

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