How is HIV transmitted?

  • Unprotected Sex.
  • Sharing needles, syringes or other equipment.
  • From mother-to-baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. In the UK mother-to-baby transmission is prevented by HIV testing in pregnancy, treatment if needed, and, for mothers who are HIV positive, Cesarean section and avoiding breastfeeding.
  • Contaminated blood transfusions and organ/tissue transplants. Since 1985 in the UK, all blood has been screened for HIV, so the virus cannot be passed on in this way any more, but in countries which do not, or cannot afford to screen donated blood, there is still a risk.


Condoms and PrEP used correctly and consistently protect you from HIV transmission during sex. 


You cannot get HIV from…

  • Someone who doesn’t have HIV
  • Touching someone who has HIV
  • Sweat, tears, urine or faeces
  • Mutual masturbation
  • Coughing, sneezing or spitting
  • New or sterilised needles
  • Toilet seats, tables, door handles, cutlery, sharing towels
  • Kissing
  • Oral sex
  • Mosquito bites