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How do you catch HIV?

HIV is spread by sexual intercourse, including vaginal, anal and sometimes even oral sex. The most common way people catch HIV in the UK is by having vaginal or anal 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.

Not sure which service you need? Worried because you’ve had sex without a condom? Let us help you choose the right option.

Further information on HIV

Detailed information about HIV is available on the NHS website.

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs and HIV.