HIV causes AIDS

HIV & AIDS: Transmission and Contagion

The HIV virus is transmitted through direct contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. Since the body has not yet formed any defense substances (antibodies) against the virus immediately after infection, the amount of virus in the blood is particularly high. There is therefore a high risk of infection from newly infected people.

Unprotected sexual intercourse

Most often, the pathogen is transmitted during unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner. 70% of the new infections in Germany affect homosexual men, 20% of the infections occur through heterosexual contacts. HIV-infected people can become infected with another, possibly resistant subtype of the HI virus if they have unprotected sexual intercourse with a partner who is also infected. Even with oral sexual contact, a low risk of infection cannot be ruled out.

Drug addicts

9% of all infected people in Germany are drug addicts who share their syringes or needles with others.

pregnancy and breast feeding period

15-30% of HIV-infected mothers transmit the disease to their child during pregnancy or childbirth. Treatment with retroviral drugs and birth by caesarean section can reduce the risk of transmission to 2%. Since HIV can also be transmitted through breast milk, HIV-infected mothers should not breast-feed their children.

Blood and blood products

Infected blood or blood products can contain HI viruses in such high concentrations that infection is possible. Since 1985, hospitals and blood banks in Germany and other European countries have been testing blood and blood products as well as repeatedly testing blood donors for HIV antibodies. Therefore, today the risk of becoming infected in this way is negligibly low.

In individual cases, the HIV virus can be transmitted through tattoos with unclean utensils. According to current knowledge, however, the risk of infection through saliva, sweat or tear fluid is extremely low. However, if these liquids come into contact with open wounds, transmission cannot be completely ruled out. While some pathogens spread through the exhaled air, the HI virus cannot spread to other people by coughing or sneezing.

Contrary to popular belief, the HI virus is therefore not transmitted by:

  • Shaking hands
  • Skin contact (hugs or kisses on the cheeks or mouth)
  • Sweat
  • tears
  • Sauna sessions
  • Swimming in swimming pools
  • Toilets
  • Eating together and sharing a knife and fork The amounts of viruses in sweat, tears and saliva are too small to cause infection.
  • Insect bites