Important Info on How HIV Is Contracted
Mother to Child
Women can transmit HIV to their babies during pregnancy or child birth. Approximately one-quarter to one-third of all untreated pregnant women infected with HIV will pass the infection to their babies. HIV transmission to babies can also occur through the breast milk of mothers infected with the virus. If the mother takes certain drugs during pregnancy, she can significantly reduce the chances that her baby will get infected. If healthcare providers treat HIV-infected pregnant women and deliver their babies by cesarean section, the chances of the baby being infected can be reduced to a rate of 1 percent. HIV infection of newborns has nearly been eradicated in the United States due to appropriate treatment.
Studies have shown that a single oral dose of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine (NVP) given to an HIV-infected woman in labor and another to her baby within three days of birth reduces the transmission rate of HIV by half, compared with a similar short course of AZT (azidothymidine).
Can It Be Transmitted Through Saliva?
Although researchers have found HIV in the saliva of infected people, there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by contact with saliva. Laboratory studies reveal that saliva has natural properties that limit the power of HIV to infect, and the amount of virus in saliva appears to be quite low. Research studies of people infected with HIV have found no evidence that HIV transmission occurs through saliva by kissing. The lining of the mouth, however, can be infected by HIV, and instances of HIV transmission through oral intercourse have been reported.
Scientists have found no evidence that transmission of HIV occurs through sweat, tears, urine, or feces.
Can You Transmit HIV Through Casual Contact?
Studies of families of HIV-infected people have clearly shown that HIV is not spread through casual contact, such as the sharing of food utensils, towels and bedding, swimming pools, telephones, or toilet seats.
Also, HIV transmission does not occur by biting insects, such as mosquitoes or bedbugs.