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What is HIV

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus attacks, replicates and destroys cells found within the immune system.

As the immune system gets destroyed, individuals can become vulnerable to infections that a ‘healthy’ person would usually be able to combat. HIV can be passed on through infected semen, vaginal fluids, rectal secretions, blood or breast milk.

The most common ways HIV is passed on are through sex without a condom, or sharing infected needles, syringes or other injecting drug equipment. In the UK, over 90% of people are infected through sex.

HIV cannot be passed on through casual contact, such as touching, shaking hands or sharing utensils. HIV cannot be passed on through saliva, including spitting or kissing. HIV cannot be passed on through urine or faeces. HIV is also not passed on through biting, scratching, or coming into contact with a discarded needle