HIV is found in the following bodily fluids of someone living with the virus:

  • blood
  • semen and pre-seminal fluid (‘pre-cum’)
  • rectal fluids/anal mucous
  • vaginal fluids
  • breastmilk.

For you to get HIV, these bodily fluids need to get into your blood through a mucous membrane (for example, the lining of the vagina, rectum, or the opening of the penis), via shared injecting equipment, or through broken skin (such as cuts or sores in the mouth or tears around the anus).There is not enough HIV virus in other bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, to transmit it from one person to another.

Someone living with HIV who has an ‘undetectable’ viral load, meaning effective treatment has lowered the amount of virus in their blood to levels where it cannot be detected by a normal blood test, cannot pass on HIV.

A person living with HIV with a detectable viral load can pass the virus to others whether they have symptoms or not.

HIV is most infectious in the first few weeks after infection. At this time many people are unaware of their status.

Preventing HIV

  • Using male (external) condoms or female (internal) condoms during sex is the best way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • If you inject drugs, always use a clean needle and syringe, and never share equipment.
  • If you’re pregnant and living with HIV, the virus could pass into your baby’s body during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding. Taking HIV treatment correctly during pregnancy and breastfeeding can virtually eliminate this risk.