Information on HIV transmission

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is a virus and it cannot live outside of the body for long.

HIV can enter into the body through the following body fluids:

-Blood
-Semen
-Vaginal fluid
-Ano-rectal secretions
-Breast milk

There are four main transmission routes:

-Unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex (oral sex carries a very small risk)
-Sharing unsterilised injecting drug equipment
-From mother-to-baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
-Infected blood transfusions and transplants, or medical procedures although most countries have processes to prevent this

Who is at risk?

Anybody is at risk of HIV if infected fluids from a HIV positive person enters their body. HIV does not only affect certain groups of people.

Whilst men who have sex with men and people from or having sex with partners from countries where HIV is more prevalent than in the UK are at higher risk at a population level, at an individual level, anyone is at risk of HIV if infected fluids from a HIV positive person enters their body.

In Wiltshire, over 50% of people living with HIV are White, British and consider themselves to be heterosexual

If people living with HIV are on antiretroviral treatment and have an undetectable viral load, the risk of HIV transmission is greatly reduced. In fact there is now strong evidence from multiple clinical research studies that in most cases, if the HIV viral load is undetectable, HIV is untransmittable. For more information, please click here

Myths surrounding HIV transmission

HIV cannot not be transmitted by:

-Surfaces such as toilet seats and eating utensils
-Insect bites
-Air such as breathing in the air of someone who is HIV positive, coughing and sneezing
-Sterile needles
-Kissing and hugging
-Water such as swimming pools and shower areas

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Opening Times

Opening times for Department of Sexual Health, Salisbury District Hospital (GUM)

  • Monday: 09:00 - 17:00
  • Tuesday: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Wednesday: 09:00 - 16:00
  • Thursday: 09:00 - 17:30
  • Friday: 09:00 - 12:00
  • Saturday: CLOSED
  • Sunday: CLOSED

For walk in times at the Department of Sexual Health, click on the view clinic button below.

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