What Are Your Odds of Getting HIV?

The dread of HIV/AIDS persists. Despite the fantastic breakthroughs in treatment and prevention, there is still a lot of misinformation, fear, and stigma out there. Knowing the odds of contracting HIV via various activities and scenarios is vital to make educated choices and comprehending the risk. The truth might shock you.

How do you Define HIV?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks and kills cells of the immune system. As a consequence, HIV impairs the body’s immune system, leaving the body prone to infections. Those who do not get treatment for their HIV infection may get AIDS.

Among the 38 million persons globally living with HIV in 2020 −

  • 36 million were adults

  • 1.7 million were youngsters under the age of 15

  • 4.7 million resided in western and central Africa

  • 5.7 million lived in Asia and the Pacific

  • A total of 2.2 million people called Europe and North America home.

What Are Your Odds of Acquiring HIV?

HIV is a virus that may afflict people of any age, colour, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Yet some things raise the danger level.

You can catch HIV if the blood, semen, rectal fluid, or breast milk of someone with HIV enters your body. When you are most likely to experience this, it is because you have

Engage in sexual activity with an HIV-positive individual while naked.

Share a Needle With Someone with HIV.

Have intercourse with an HIV-positive individual while you have a sexually \stransmitted infection (STI) (STI).

Physical Contact Without Protection

The transmission of HIV is often facilitated by risky sexual conduct. Fluids from both partners are shared during sexual activity. An increased risk of contracting HIV includes −

  • Having a spouse who is HIV-positive or at high risk

  • Several consorts

  • Sex with someone who has several sex partners

  • The penis is not circumcised.

  • The danger you face might also vary depending on your sex preferences −

If you want to spread HIV, you should engage in anal intercourse. You're highly vulnerable when you're on the receiving end (penis put into your rectum).

After oral sex, vaginal intercourse is the most dangerous since it puts the vaginal person at risk.

Despite the limited research, it seems that oral intercourse poses a low threat of transmitting HIV. It’s much safer if you use a dental dam (latex or polyurethane sheets between the mouth and vagina/anus) or a male or female condom.

Sharing Needles

Regarding HIV transmission, this is the second riskiest activity, behind anal intercourse. If any blood or fluid is left in the syringe, you risk contracting an infection. If the needle you share is for illicit drug use, you also put yourself in danger by compromising your judgement. While you're high, you're more prone to take chances, such as engaging in sexual activity without protection.

Never reuse a needle that has already been used on another patient.

STIs, or sexually transmitted diseases. When you have an STI, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, genital herpes, genital warts, or syphilis, you’re at a greater risk of an HIV infection. This is because −

Sexual contact with an HIV-positive person may spread the virus to a healthy person via any open sores or inflammation brought on by STIs.

The person you receive an STI from may be having unsafe intercourse, enhancing your chances of obtaining HIV.

When you engage in risky sexual behaviours like having sex with several partners, not using protection, or engaging in sexual activity with someone you don't know, you put yourself at a higher risk of contracting an STI, which may lead to HIV.

Possibilities from Other Sources

Some occupations increase the likelihood that you may come into touch with HIV-positive people's bodily fluids. Some of them are −

  • For Health Care (doctors, nurses, technicians)

  • Prisons

  • Facilities that process blood or sperm

HIV may be transmitted to infants from their mothers during pregnancy, labour, and lactation. Most paediatric HIV infections occur because of these risk factors. However, if both the mother and the baby are given HIV medication during the pregnancy and the first few weeks of the newborn's life, the risk of mother-to-child transmission may be reduced to as low as 1%.

Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Having or Sharing HIV

Antidotes used before exposure to a dangerous situation Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications may reduce your risk of HIV transmission via sex by roughly 99 per cent if you are at a very high risk of infection, such as if your current sexual partner has HIV.

Injection drug users may reduce their risk of HIV transmission by more than 74% by using an oral PrEP pill.

Antiretroviral treatment, or ART, may significantly lessen the likelihood of transmitting HIV if you are infected with it. With these drugs, the quantity of HIV in a person's body (called viral load) may be reduced to an amount below the detection threshold for the virus using current diagnostic methods.

Oral, vaginal, and genital intercourse is safe for someone with an undetectable viral load. According to HIV.gov, this has been validated by extensive research studies that tracked thousands of heterosexual couples where at least one member was infected with HIV.

If a person with HIV takes their medicine as directed and their viral load is undetectable, they pose no danger of spreading the infection to others.

USAID says male condoms are 90% effective in preventing HIV transmission. In contrast, female condoms, also known as dental dams (thin strips of latex that may be put over the vagina or anus), can lower the risk of HIV transmission by 94%. To reduce the potential for the condom to rupture, lubricants made of water or silicone may be used.

How Effective Are Condoms in Preventing HIV Transmission?

Although condoms are helpful, they are not a failsafe method of HIV prevention. One study found that using a condom during genital and oral intercourse with an HIV-positive partner reduced the risk of transmission by around 70 per cent. This explains why some people who wore a condom nevertheless contracted HIV. So, although condom use is successful (and still protects against other STIs and undesired pregnancies), therapy or a combination of the two is more so.


There are measures you may take to lessen your vulnerability to HIV. Having the HIV-positive spouse receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the gold standard. With an undetectable viral load, HIV transmission to a partner is unlikely. A considerable decrease in risk is shown even with a detectable viral load when one spouse is receiving therapy.


A person's risk of HIV infection might be raised by engaging in risky activities. HIV may be spread by blood, sperm, and breast milk. Less than 2% of people who have oral, vaginal, or genital intercourse with someone who tests positive for HIV will get the virus from that person.

Prevention strategies, including pre-exposure prophylaxis, post-exposure prophylaxis, and antiretroviral therapy, may help people reduce their risk of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. It's also possible for them to utilise condoms or other forms of barrier protection.

Updated on: 29-Mar-2023


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