Being sick is something that people tend to abhor and do their best to avoid, but there are some medical concerns which can cause significant fear and worry in those who notice the symptoms. Often connected with fatal or notoriously difficult to cure diseases, such experiences can sometimes lead to the creation and facilitation of social stigmas, and HIV represents one of the most stigmatized health concerns currently affecting global populations. This has led, in many areas, to the spread of misinformation and confusion regarding the nature of HIV and how it is transmitted between people. Unfortunately, poor understanding of HIV transmission methods can lead to greater occurrences of infection and may increase social and emotional harm caused by stigmatization. Through taking an honest look at how this medical issue is spread, people can help keep themselves, and their loved ones protected –and contribute to a greater understanding within their own families and community groups.
Though HIV was primarily thought to be a problem of poorly regulated blood transfusions and other procedures in the medical environment upon its discovery, measures to monitor blood and promote a sterile hospital atmosphere have greatly improved in recent years, making this a low-risk method of transmission, even though infected blood supplies stand the strongest chance of subsequent infection through transfusions. The HIV spreads between people through blood and other bodily fluids, including semen and vaginal fluid. The use of shared needles between substance users presents a considerable threat of HIV infection, as such needles provide a direct path to the bloodstream. In some parts of the world, however, unprotected sex remains the most common way in which HIV is transmitted.
Some types of intercourse are riskier than others regarding the chance to contract the HIV from an infected partner. Anal sex tends to be more potentially dangerous than vaginal sex, which in turn is more potentially dangerous than oral sex. In most cases, the receptive party is more at risk than their partner. The proper use of latex condoms can help prevent HIV transmission by 85%, making protected sex one of the most prominent and important ways in which individuals can protect themselves and their partners from the virus.
Though misleading ideas about HIV may influence some people to believe that the virus can be contracted from toilet seats or other objects touched by an infected person, or that merely being around someone with HIV can put a person at risk of infection, such concerns are unnecessary.