Occurrence and transmission

HIV can be isolated from blood, tissues, semen, saliva, breast milk, cervical and vaginal secretions and tears of infected persons. HIV is transmitted in semen, blood and vaginal fluids, transplanted organs and breast milk through:

• unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal) and in rare cases oral sex with an infected person

• infected blood entering the body (through blood transfusion or by IV drug users sharing needles/ syringes)

• needle-stick injury

• artificial insemination, organ transplantation

• infected mothers (to babies during pregnancy, at birth or in breast milk)

Infection with HIV can occur via the vagina, rectum or open cuts and sores, including any on the lips or in the mouth. Social (non-sexual) contact and insect vectors have not been implicated in transmission.

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