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  ROUTES OF INFECTION

HIV infection

HIV is transmitted (passed on) from an HIV-infected person to another person. HIV can be transmitted by the infected person even if he/she does not look sick or has not tested "positive" in the HIV blood test. This is true because the presence of HIV antibodies may not be detected in blood for up to six months after infection.In fact, soon after infection, HIV-specific antibodies take time to be produced, whereas the virus is present and replicating. This period of absence of HIV-specific antibodies may vary from 20 day up to six months after infection and is called "window period". During the window period, the infection can be detected by testing for the presence of viral RNA in blood.

 
Most body fluids of people infected with HIV contain enough of the virus to transmit the infection to other people. These body fluids include blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk. Tears or saliva may also theoretically be able to transmit the virus. However, there have been no reported cases of HIV infection through these fluids.
 
Activities leading to, and corresponding routes of, HIV transmission are:
 
  • Having unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal fluid, semen, blood)
  • Injecting drugs using contaminated needles (blood)
  • Becoming pregnant or nursing while HIV-positive--Babies can get HIV through the placenta (blood) or from breast milk (milk)
  • Receiving blood transfusions (blood; infection by transfusion is now extremely rare due to excellent control by blood banks)
The vast majority of HIV-1 infections occurs as a result of unprotected sexual intercourses.
 

 

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