What are the chances of becoming infected with HIV?
There are many different ways HIV is spread. Having unprotected sex is the main reason people become infected. Here we discuss transmission risks of single (one-time) unprotected sexual exposure with HIV positive persons.
Important notice: the risk of becoming infected is raised up to 10 times when the source partner is infected in an early stage (high viral load) or a late stage (AIDS). Also the presence of STI’s increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Vaginal sex, female to male
HIV is also present in vaginal fluid. It is less risky for males to become infected but still many men get infected daily.
High income countries: 0.04 % or 1: 2380
Low income countries: 0.38 % or 1: 263
Vaginal sex, male to female
Having vaginal sex with a male is riskier than having vaginal sex with a female.
High income countries: 0.08 % or 1: 123
Low income countries: 0.30 % or 1: 333
Researchers are uncertain about why there are differences between the risks of vaginal transmission in high-income versus low-income countries. This could be explained by biological, viral and genetic differences.
Receptive anal sex: 0.82 % or 1: 123
The receptive partner has a higher risk of becoming infected than the insertive partner.
Insertive anal sex: 0.37 % or 1: 270
The insertive partner in anal sex has been considered to be at a much lower risk than the receptive partner. But still the risk is higher than vaginal sex.
Notice: Studies suggest that circumcised men have 4 to 5 times less chance of becoming infected through insertive anal intercourse than uncircumcised men.
Of the three forms of oral sex, only receptive fellatio (penis-mouth) carries a theoretical risk of HIV transmission.
Receptive fellatio: 0 % – 0.04 % or 1: 2500
The risk of the insertive partner is considered to be non-existent. Scientists argue about the risks of the receptive partner, due to bleeding gums or sores in the mouth, some researchers identified risks of HIV infection. There is no evidence of this route of infection.
Spitting or biting: 0% – 0.0001 %
Although studies suggest that saliva can contain HIV in very low levels. It is impossible to infect someone by spitting. Also kissing has no transmission risk.
Biting could be a way the virus is transmitted, but it is extremely unlikely. The wound should be very deep, and there should be a significant amount of blood in the biters saliva. It has only been reported twice.
Bloodtransfusion: 92.5 % or 9:10 (blood products with contaminated blood)
The risk of transmission is with contaminated blood is very high. But today, in western countries, blood products are carefully screened. The blood from these modern blood banks is very safe.
Giving birth (mother to child): 15 – 45 %
Transmission of HIV from mother to child occurs during pregnancy, labour, delivery and breast feeding. Worldwide HIV testing of pregnant women would be the most significant improvement, because antiviral treatment lowers the transmission risk to 5 %.
Injecting drug use, estimated: 0.63 % – 2.4 %
Outside of Africa almost 30 % of HIV positive people become infected by injecting illegal drugs. Sharing contaminated needles contains a very high risk of transmission.
Some risks of HIV transmission are high, and some seem low. But a small risk is still a risk, sexual infection chances are easily decreased by the use of condoms. If you are affraid you might be infected with HIV, get tested as soon as possible. Do not spread the virus.
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