HIV FAQ

How do you get HIV?

The HIV virus is in biological fluids (blood, semen , vaginal secretions , breast milk ) of a HIV positive person. The virus in these fluids can pass through small wounds in the mouth, in the anus , in genital organ, or through skin lacerations , some through mucous membranes ( eyes , inside the nose) thus reaching the bloodstream of another person, infecting her. You can get infected also intravenously , sharing the same needles for injecting substances , or through transfusions of infected blood and its derivatives. Both men and women can be the source of HIV infection. Pregnant women or during childbirth or breastfeeding can also transmit the virus to their child . The most frequent ways of transmission of HIV are still: sharing syringes for injecting drugs / steroids and unprotected sex . HIV is not transmitted by touching or hugging an infected person ; using or sharing the same cups, glasses, cutlery or telephone ; going to places like swimming pools or public baths ; through insect bites . The HIV virus is not in the air or in food , and survives outside the body for a very short time . Currently, it is very unlikely to get HIV through blood transfusions in the United States and in western Europe due to the strict scrutiny applied.

Can I contract HIV by kissing on the cheek?

HIV is not transmitted casually, so kissing on the cheek does not transmit the infection. No person may transmit or get HIV with a kiss, with a handshake or a hug.

Can I contract HIV by kissing with open mouth?

The open-mouthed kiss is theoretically considered at very low risk of infection. This is because a prolonged open-mouthed kiss always theoretically, if aggressive, can create small lesions on the lips or in the mouth, allowing the virus to move from an infected person to another. In practice, both the open-mouthed kiss and the deep kiss are not considered risky behaviours nor to get or transmit HIV.

Can I get HIV by oral sex?

Yes, it is possible to be infected with HIV by practicing oral sex. In oral sex if you come into contact with body fluids, semen and vaginal secretions, which may contain the virus. This risk is lower compared to having an unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse. During oral sex then you should use use a condom or a dental dum (film used for oral sex vaginal).

Does Fellatio (oral stimulation of the penis) is an intercourse at high risk of HIV infection?

Oral stimulation of the penis (fellatio) is considered at low risk if there is no contact between the sperm and the mucous membranes of the mouth. In the case of contact, the risk is for the person who practices fellatio. The use of condoms excludes contact between the sperm and mucous membranes: if you decide not to use a condom, you should avoid ejaculation in the mouth.

Does Cunnilingus (oral stimulation of the vagina) is a intercourse at high risk of HIV infection?

Oral stimulation of the vagina (cunnilungus) is considered at low risk because vaginal secretions contain a small amount of virus. The risk increases during the menstrual period. Also in this case, the risk is for the person who practices cunnilingus. In mouth-vagina intercourses, the function of the condom can be performed by a dental dum, a latex film suiting these practices. Failing this you can use a normal plastic wrap.

Can I get HIV by vaginal sex?

Yes, this is the most frequent mode of transmission of HIV. During sexual intercourse, you can create micro wounds which facilitate the transmission of the virus from a fluid (organic liquid) to the bloodstream. It is also possible the direct absorption of HIV through the vaginal mucosa, as well as in men the virus can penetrate through the urethra. The risk of HIV infection increases if one partner has a sexually transmitted disease.

Can I get HIV by anal intercourse?

Yes, as said, the virus is in body fluids: blood, semen, vaginal secretion. In general, the person who receives the seminal fluid has a higher risk of infection, because the lining of the intestine rectum is thin and may allow the virus to cross during intercourse, besides the fact that often arise micro wounds. The other partner is also at risk of infection because the virus can enter through the urethra or through small wounds on the penis. Having anal intercourse without a condom is considered a high-risk behaviour. In addition, while using a condom, anal sex can be risky due to possible breakage of condoms during intercourse. To avoid this, it is advisable to always use a water-based lubricant.

How do I know if I have HIV?

The only way to know if you are HIV positive is to do the “HIV test”. This test is done by taking a small blood sample. The test can be carried out voluntary and anonymous in our region by booking an appointment through the regional AIDS number 800 856 080

Why is HIV test recommended to all pregnant women?

A HIV-positive pregnant woman can transmit the infection to her child during pregnancy, during delivery, and after birth during breastfeeding. To prevent this, antiretroviral drugs both before and after childbirth are prescribed. The test is not obligatory but voluntary and is carried out after signing an informed consent, but it is definitely recommended because it allows women who are positive to access preventive medical treatment, and HIV-negative women to become aware of all the information to prevent future exposure to the virus, thanks to medical advice.

If my HIV test is negative, does this mean that my partner is HIV negative?

No. The HIV test reveals only the current status of the person who got tested. The HIV virus is not necessarily transmitted every time there is an exposure, then the test does not give information about the partner.

What should I do if my test is positive?

One of the first things you should do after receiving a positive outcome is to visit a Clinical Center with a Department of Infectious Diseases, for a first specialist visit. People with both symptomatic and asymptomatic HIV are followed entirely on an outpatient hospital both as regards the diagnostic tests that opportunistic infections and any antiretroviral therapy. This condition gives you the right to a full exemption from the ticket that will allow you to perform, for free, all controls and diagnostic tests related to it.

If my test is positive should I have to communicate it?

You must know that you have no legal constraint that obliges you to communicate your HIV status to other people (employers and co-workers, authorities, doctors). The Italian law, Law 135/90, also protects the right to privacy of personal data, ie the right to every person not to disclose personal information. In particular, physicians and health care professionals, notaries, lawyers, consultants, technicians and SerT operators are bound to observe professional secrecy also to your family members.

If I am an illegal HIV positive what am I entitled to?

If you are not in compliance with permits to enter and stay in our region, hospital and outpatient services at public accredited facilities are granted; access to such facilities does not involve any type of reporting to the authorities. The Italian law also protects the right to privacy of personal data, ie the right to every person not to disclose personal information.

HIV/AIDS – How you do not get infected

How you do not get infected

It is necessary to necessary remember that the common social contacts cannot transmit the virus. The virus, in fact, is NOT transmitted:

  • From shaking hands, sharing rooms and / or other common social contacts
  • By coughing or sneezing by an HIV positive person
  • The use of household items such as dishes do not transmit the virus. The infection occurs by means of all those objects that can penetrate the skin or mucous membranes and can make enter into contact the blood of a healthy person and that of a sick person; for example, razors, scissors, needles, toothbrush etc …

HIV and the kiss

A simple kiss (kiss mouth shut or social) is not at risk for HIV transmission. As for the deep kiss or kiss with open mouth, the possibility of transmitting the virus is rare, but, despite having never been reported in the scientific literature of cases of HIV transmission through kissing, it is good to maintain a good level of caution. It cannot be excluded that, during deep kissing, oral mucosa may undergo minor injury that can lead to bleeding. In this case, if one partner is infected, it is possible that the virus is transmitted in the healthy partner.

HIV and swimming pools

There is no risk of getting infected attending swimming pools or bathrooms. The chlorine and other disinfectants kill HIV and dilution makes the concentration of the virus extremely low.

HIV and animals

Pets do not transmit HIV. In fact, this is a virus that affects only the human species. Although there are other viruses that can cause a disease similar to HIV in animals, especially cats (FIV), monkey (SIV) and bovine (BIV), these viruses are not transmitted to humans through bites or scratches or other contacts (caresses, cleaning, etc.). Given the remarkable similarity with the disease that affects humans, they are used only for scientific purposes such as study models.

HIV and insects

Insects that feed on blood (mosquitoes, fleas, bedbugs hematophagous, ticks etc …) are not capable of transmitting the HIV virus. We know that there are two ways through which the insects that feed on blood can transmit diseases:

  • In a mechanical way: through the simple transfer of germs from the infected mouth apparatus, from paws or fecal material
  • In a biological way: through the replication of micro-organisms in the tissues of the insect, and especially in the salivary glands.

HIV and mosquitos

Mosquitoes cannot transmit the virus; evidence in this regard are manifold:

  • There are not seasonal epidemics of HIV infection, as is the case for malaria or yellow fever – Mosquitoes suck blood, but they do not inject it during the meal
  • The HIV virus does not survive and do not reproduce inside the mosquito
  • Mosquitoes take a break of at least 24 hours between one meal and the other, digest the ingested blood and then inactivate the virus