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Can You Get HIV From Having Sex With Someone Who Has AIDS?

If you have sex with someone who has AIDS, not HIV, can you still get HIV?
Sarah*

Yes. People who have AIDS are infected with the HIV virus. This means they can pass HIV on to others.

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) happens after someone has had HIV for many years. In AIDS, the immune system is severely weakened. When someone gets HIV, that person can spread the infection to other people immediately. And if HIV develops into AIDS, the virus can spread to others.

HIV/AIDS spreads when infected blood or body fluids (such as semen or vaginal fluids) enter the body. This can happen:

  • during sex (especially anal sex and vaginal sex)
  • through sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
  • by getting stuck with a needle with an infected person's blood on it

HIV/AIDS also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

To reduce your risk of getting HIV/AIDS if you are sexually active:

  • Use a condom every time you have sex (including vaginal, oral, or anal sex).
  • Get tested for HIV and make sure all partners do too.
  • Have fewer sexual partners.
  • Get tested and treated for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases); having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection.
  • Consider taking a medicine every day (called PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis) if you are at very high risk of getting infected (for example, if you are in a sexual relationship with someone who has HIV/AIDS).

It's also important to:

  • not inject drugs or share any kind of needle
  • not share razors or other personal objects that may touch blood
  • not touch anyone else's blood from a cut or sore

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Reviewed by: Robyn R. Miller, MD
Date Reviewed: 01-10-2018

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