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"Can HIV transmission occur during casual contact with an HIV+ person?"


Updated June 18, 2014

Question: "Can HIV transmission occur during casual contact with an HIV+ person?"
Some of the first questions I hear when giving a person their positive results is if HIV transmission can occur during casual contact with a friend, family member, or loved one. Many times the first concern of the newly diagnosed person is if casual contact is an HIV risk. Let's answer the question:

    "Can HIV transmission occur during casual contact with an HIV+ person?"

Simply put, the answer to this question is no; HIV transmission can't occur during casual contact. HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day contact in the workplace, schools, or social settings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You can't become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a door knob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets.

What Behaviors Have The Highest Risk For HIV Transmission?

There have been a few documented cases of HIV transmission in which a person became infected in the home as a result of contact with the blood or bodily secretions of an HIV+ person. Although contact with blood and other body substances can occur in households, transmission of HIV is rare in this setting. However rare, persons persons providing home care for HIV+ people should be fully educated and trained regarding in the use of universal precautions.

What Are Universal Precautions?

Keep in mind that HIV is not an airborne or food-borne virus, and it does not live long outside the body.

How Long Does HIV Live Outside the Body?

HIV can be found in the blood, semen, or vaginal fluid of an infected person. The three main ways HIV is transmitted is:

  • by having unprotected sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with someone HIV+
  • by sharing needles and syringes with someone who is HIV+
  • through exposure to HIV before or during childbirth, or while breast feeding.

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