how is HIV passed on?
HIV is only passed through specific fluids: blood, semen and ejaculatory fluid, vaginal and anal fluid, and breast milk are the only bodily fluids where a high enough viral load is possible to facilitate transmission. When one of these fluids in a person living with HIV enters the bloodstream of a person who is HIV-negative, HIV may be transmitted.
ways HIV spreads+
HIV is mainly passed on in two ways; through sex and sharing needles. HIV may also be transmitted through pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding; sharing tattoo or piercing equipment (such as needles and ink).
Common ways these bodily fluids may come into contact with a persons bloodstream are if the fluid has contact with a microabbrasion (a tear that is painless and too small to be seen without a microscope) in mucous-membrane (such as the lining of a vagina or rectum), the opening to the penis, or the wet linings of the body (vagina, rectum, and foreskin) or directly into the bloodstream (which can happen when injection equipment is shared).
How do you know your HIV status?
The only way to know your status is to get tested for HIV!
Your family doctor can send you to a lab for standard testing, or you can go to a sexual health clinic. HIV tests can also be purchased from a drug store to take home, and there are many programs (such as Get-A-Kit) where you can get home tests for free.
If being tested in a medical setting, depending on where you are getting your test it can be identifying, non-identifying, or anonymous. Anonymous testing is not available in all provinces or areas, so it’s important to discuss testing options before getting tested. If you want your HIV test to be anonymous, make sure you ask if they do anonymous testing.
Tests do not show HIV immediately after infection. This is known as the window period, and depending on what type of test you get it can take up to 3 months in some cases for HIV to show up on a test. If you get tested, make sure you get tested again and/or tested regularly.
Get an HIV Self-Test at Get-A-Kit by the AIDS Network!