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HIV can infect by
  • sexual contact
  • through blood and blood products including dirty needles
  • lactation from mother to child
  • at birth from mother to child
  • organ transplantation.
    HIV has been found in almost all body secretions: blood, semen, vaginal secretion, mothers milk and pus.

    HIV does not infect through kisses, hugs and touch.
    HIV does not infect through insect bites, food, drink, baths, toilets, swimming pools, sweat, tears and cutlery.
    HIV does not infect through the air and normal social activities.


    There is a difference between being HIV-positive and having AIDS. HIV-carriers may live for years without symptoms, and in many cases people are not aware that they are HIV-positive. The period from infection until AIDS is developed may be as long as 15 years.
    The first symptoms are usually due to other infections and often include night sweats, tiredness, weight loss, rash, cough and diarrhoea.

    Antibodies and nucleic acid can be found in a blood sample.

    There are several antiviral drugs available. It is beyond the scope of this page to go through the pros and cons for each drug. Triple therapy, so called Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy or HAART has revolutionised treatment, and HIV are now for many a chronic disease.

    Unsafe sex is the most common route of transmission. Dirty needles are important routes of infections in intravenous drug abusers.

    More about HIV
    HIV infection is primarily an infection of poverty with the vast majority of infected people living in third world countries. There is truly a world epidemic unfolding with the infection rapidly spreading in Africa, Asia and parts of South America and some former East European countries.
    The life expectancy in many African counties has declined over the past decade and is now below 40 years. In some countries in Southern Africa, like Botswana and Zambia, close to 40% of the population aged 15 45 years are HIV positive.
    Presently around 30 million people are infected with HIV worldwide.
    More than 50% of the infected are between 15 and 25 years, 75% to 85% are sexually infected of which heterosexual infection is seen in about 70% of cases.
    The map below shows the spread of HIV. More information is to be found on the homepage of UN AIDS UNAIDS.

    Further information:W.H.O. HIV

    Edited 10 December 2008