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Facts about HIV

  • HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

  • Having HIV does not mean that the person has done something wrong. HIV is a medical condition that is found in every country in the world. It can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, relationship status, ethnicity or religion.

  • HIV is a virus found in blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluid. You can only get HIV from someone who already has the virus, but only if the virus gets into your blood stream.

  • The main ways HIV can be passed on to someone else are during unprotected sex, by sharing injecting equipment, and from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding (if advice is followed during pregnancy the risk of a woman living with HIV passing it on to her baby is almost zero in Scotland). There are simple ways to prevent HIV infection in all of these situations.

  • You cannot get HIV from normal social contact such as kissing, hugging, sneezing or sharing food or utensils.

  • HIV cannot be transmitted through healthy unbroken skin.

  • Anti-HIV drugs (known as antiretrovirals) reduce the levels of HIV in the body and can slow down or prevent damage to the immune system. They are not a cure but can help people living with HIV stay well and lead longer and healthier lives.
  • Over 90% of people with HIV were infected through sexual contact.

  • You cannot tell if someone has HIV just by looking at them.