How do you catch HIV?

HIV is spread by sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal and sometimes even oral sex. It's most commonly caught by having sex without a condom.

It can also be spread by sharing needles, receiving surgical treatment in countries where sterilization standards are low, and sometimes a mother can pass the virus onto her baby during the birth process or by breast feeding.

HIV is found in the bodily fluids of an infected person, which includes semen, vaginal and anal fluids, blood, and breast milk. It is a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long.

​HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva, sweat or urine.

The most common way of getting HIV in the UK is by anal or vaginal sex without a condom.

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

View FPA leaflets