Approximately 38 million people worldwide are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), so it’s important to learn the basics about HIV to avoid contracting the virus and, if you are HIV-positive, avoid transmitting it to others.

How does someone get HIV?

HIV is transferred through certain bodily fluids of an infected individual, most commonly through unprotected vaginal or anal sex. Blood, breastmilk, rectal fluids, anal mucous, vaginal fluids, semen and pre-ejaculate fluid are the only fluids that can transmit HIV. Body fluids like saliva, urine and sweat do not have enough of the virus in them to transmit HIV.

In order for someone to become infected with HIV, a bodily fluid that contains HIV