How do you get HIV?

For someone to get HIV, an infectious fluid like blood or semen has to get inside their body. There are a number of ways that this can happen, but in Bali the most common transmission routes are through unprotected sex and sharing needles. This is because sex and the sharing of needles allows transmission fluid access into the body.



Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk.

To spread HIV during sex, HIV infection in blood or sexual fluids (cum, precum, vaginal fluids) must be transmitted to someone.

HIV can be transmitted when infected fluid gets into someone’s body. 



Activities That Allow HIV Transmission:

  • Unprotected sexual contact, especially unprotected anal or vaginal sex
  • Direct blood contact, including injection drug needles, shared tattoo equipment and unscreened blood transfusions
  • Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)



There are lots of myths about how you get HIV. But compared to many viruses, HIV is not easily passed on. HIV cannot pass through unbroken skin and is normally spread by unprotected sex.

Can you get HIV from kissing or shaking hands?
There’s no risk from casual social contact such as kissing, shaking hands or hugging. The virus cannot get through unbroken skin and is not spread in saliva. So it is also safe to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (giving 'the kiss of life').

Can you get HIV from coughs, sneezes or other bodily fluids?
There’s also no risk from coughing or sneezing . HIV does not travel in the air. The virus is also not passed on in tears, sweat, saliva (and spitting), urine or faeces.

Can you get HIV from toilet seats or sharing cups and plates?
No, HIV cannot be caught from toilet seats, swimming pools, showers, hot tubs, towels, etc. It is safe to share objects someone with HIV has touched or used to eat or drink from.

Can you get HIV from animals or insects?
HIV is only found in humans. It cannot be spread by insect bites (including from mosquitoes).

Sexual Transmission

During sex a body fluid of someone with HIV (such as blood, semen, vaginal or anal secretions*) can get inside another person. This allows the virus to enter their blood stream. This can happen during vaginal and anal sex (and sometimes oral sex too though this is very rare) – or when an object (eg, a sex toy) that has a body fluid on it goes from inside one person and into another.

Different sexual acts have different risk levels:


Anal sex without a condom (receptive/bottom)
Anal sex without a condom is the highest risk activity for contracting HIV. This is because of the biology of the anus which is designed to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream from food passing through. This means it can absorb the HIV virus from infected semen. There is also a very high concentration of cells in the anus that are especially vulnerable to HIV infection, unlike other parts of the body.


Anal sex without a condom (insertive/top)
HIV is more easily transmitted from the insertive to the receptive partner, but neither position is safe. During sex, the lining of the rectum of the receptive partner (‘bottom’) can get damaged and HIV can enter the bloodstream of the insertive partner either through the eye of the penis or through small cuts on the skin.

Vaginal sex without a condom (receptive) 
While not as extreme of a risk as anal sex, vaginal sex without a condom still poses a high risk of passing on HIV from infected semen or pre-cum. The virus can be transmitted through the lining of the vagina and absorbed into the bloodstream.

Vaginal sex (insertive) 
While being the insertive partner in vaginal sex caries less risk than being receptive, HIV in infected vaginal fluids can still enter a man’s body through the end of his penis, the inner folds of his foreskin, or through small cuts on the skin.</p>


Oral sex
Oral sex presents a very low risk of HIV transmission. There is an enzyme in saliva that acts as a natural defence to HIV. Having an open and bleeding wound in your mouth does increase the risk of oral HIV transmission slightly, but there would need to be a significant amount of semen containing a high HIV viral load coming into direct contact with the wound. If the wound were very minor, it's unlikely that this would happen


Masturbation/hand job/wanking
HIV cannot be passed on through skin to skin contact, e.g., from someone’s hands or lips touching your penis.


Whilst many people think safe sex is only about condoms and lubricant, the term actually refers to taking precautions during sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Using condoms and lubricant during sex remains the most effective way to reduce HIV & STI transmission. The key to protecting yourself from HIV is to use condoms correctly and consistently.


Condoms, when used properly, stop STIs from being passed on by stopping infected cum, pre-cum and other fluids like anal mucus from passing from one person to another. Using plenty of water or silicon based lube when having sex helps stop condoms from breaking, and most men find it increases pleasure during sex.

Tips for using condoms and lubricant

  • Choose the best fit for your own or sex partner’s penis (remember, condom size is about thickness not length)
  • Always check the expiry date
  • Open the packets carefully to avoid damaging the condom, especially in the heat of the moment
  • Pull back the foreskin when putting a condom on a uncircumcised penis
  • Squeeze the air out of the tip and roll the condom to the base of the penis
  • Use lube generously and reapply
  • During sex, check every now and then that the condom is not broken and is still rolled down
  • When pulling out, hold the condom by the base to stop it from slipping off
  • Throw the condom in the bin after each use and use a new condom between partners
Spread the love