Sex, mother-to-child transmission, and other breastfeeding risks
HIV is a bloodborne virus. It transmits more easily through blood-to-blood contact than through sex. Of course, it also transmits through sex, but not nearly as fast as other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis and gonorrhea. Click here for some basic information about sexual transmission risks and how to prevent sexual transmission. We encourage you to look for more information from other sources.
Mother-to-child HIV transmission at birth or through breastfeeding is efficient — but it is almost entirely preventable. Click here for information about the risk an HIV-positive mother will infect her baby and about how to prevent it. If you are pregnant and HIV-positive, we encourage you to look for more thorough information from other sources.
With HIV in the community, breastfeeding can be a risk to transmit HIV not only from mother-to-child, but other ways as well. If a child is infected, the child can infect the mother or any other woman who breastfeeds that child. If a woman is infected, the woman can infect her own baby or any other child she breastfeeds. Click here for more information about risks to transmit HIV from children to breastfeeding women or from surrogate breastfeeders to children.
For comparison with less efficient HIV transmsision through sex, click here for best estimates of the risk to transmit HIV through specific skin-piercing events, such as injections and tattooing.