What is HIV?
How does your immune system work?
What is a virus?
How does HIV virus work?
How do you get HIV?
Who can get HIV?
Is there more than one HIV virus?
Is there a cure for HIV?

How do you get HIV?

HIV lives in body liquids. HIV can be passed from an HIV-positive person to someone else through body liquids like:

  • blood
  • sperm/semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • breast milk
  • Some people got HIV through unsterile (unclean) medial equipment or because they had a blood transfusion with blood that had the HIV virus in it.

If body liquids containing HIV get into your body, you might get HIV. That's why doctors and nurses wear rubber gloves when they give needles or perform operations. It's also why you should never share needles with someone else and why you should to use a condom when you're having sex. Always protect yourself.

[Check out the Safer Sex & Drugs section for more information.]

Ways you can pass on HIV:

  • Unprotected sex—so always use a condom during vaginal, anal or oral sex!
  • Sharing needles—whether you're injecting drugs or getting a tattoo or piercing.
  • If any open cuts and sores on your body come into contact with another person's blood or sperm.
  • Having a baby &/or breastfeeding. Some kids get HIV when they are still inside their mom, during birth or through breast milk. Talk to your doctor about your options for pregnancy. [Check out the Pregnancy & HIV for more information.]
  • Playing blood games like "knuckles" or "blood brothers/sisters" (this is when you and a friend prick yourselves with a pin and rub the bloody areas together).

Hospital for Sick Children University of Toronto Positive Youth Outreach CATIE