How can HIV be transmitted?
A person who is infected with HIV can transmit the virus through certain bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk. In order to transmit infection, the fluids must come into contact with a mucous membrane (found inside the vagina, rectum, mouth and opening of the penis), damaged tissue or receive an injection directly through the blood stream from a needle or syringe.
In the US, the virus is most commonly contracted through un-protected sex with an HIV-infected partner, and sharing needles, syringes or other injection-drug tools with a person infected with HIV.
HIV may also be transmitted to a child by an infected mother through pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding, or a person may become infected through receiving blood products or organ/tissue transplants contaminated with HIV, though such incidences are rare.
As stated previously, many people with HIV may not experience any symptoms, or the symptoms may even be mistaken for other illnesses. If a person believes they are at risk of HIV, the best way to find out is to undergo an HIV test.