How can HIV be transmitted?

HIV is passed on through sexual intercourse and high-risk exposure to the bodily fluids of an HIV-positive person (and not on treatment), like:

  • blood
  • semen and pre-cum
  • rectal and vaginal fluids
  • breast milk

These fluids must come in contact with an open sore or get directly into the bloodstream for transmission to occur. The skin of the anus is very soft and there are no body fluids to lubricate penetration. This means anal sex may result in very small tears of the anus which can increase the chances of HIV transmission. Unprotected anal sex has the highest risk for HIV transmission, especially for the passive (bottom) partner.