HIV is a blood borne virus that is present in the body fluids and tissues of a person living with HIV.  Only blood, genital fluids (i.e. semen and vaginal fluids) and breast milk from an HIV infected person can transmit HIV.  

The main ways HIV can be passed on to someone else are during unprotected sex (vaginal or anal), by sharing any equipment used to inject drugs, and from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, birth or through breastfeeding.  But there are very effective ways of preventing HIV infection in all of these situations.


HIV cannot be transmitted through normal social contact. There is no risk to your friends and family from kissing, hugging or shaking hands – or any other social contact.  You cannot get HIV by being in the same place as someone with HIV, or by sharing household items such as crockery, cutlery, or bed linen. HIV is not passed on by sneezing or coughing or sharing food and drink.