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Ways HIV is not transmitted

a sign saying myths

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
  • hugging

The virus cannot get through unbroken skin and is not spread in saliva.

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 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).

Can you get HIV from giving or receiving blood?

No-one gets HIV from giving blood.

There is also no need to worry about receiving blood as in the UK blood and blood products are screened to make sure they don’t have HIV.

Learn more about blood and blood products in the UK.

Can you ‘catch’ AIDS?

You can ‘catch’ HIV, the virus that can lead to AIDS but you cannot catch AIDS itself.

AIDS is a name for a collection of illnesses people with HIV can get if they don’t receive treatment. Generally people who get HIV these days will not go on to get AIDS so long as they test and start treatment in time.

Watch "HIV Myths" video:

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Videos kindly donated by Streaming Well

Symptoms of HIV infection ››

‹‹ Back to: Mother-to-baby transmission



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This article was last reviewed on 24/8/2015 by T. Kelaart

Date due for the next review: 24/8/2018

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The easiest and most effective precaution to take against most STIs is using a condom.