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Transmission Risk by Sexual Interaction

HIV infection is most commonly passed by sexual transmission. The most common ways it is passed is through vaginal or rectal intercourse. It is passed through oral sex as well.

Factors that Affect Transmission

The likelihood of transmission depends greatly on:

Transmission Risk by Sexual Activity

We have known since early in the epidemic that unprotected sex can transmit HIV. Worldwide most new infections result from sexual transmission, but not all sexual practices are equally likely to result in HIV transmission.

Each type of sexual activity has a different level of risk and certain sexual activities are more risky than others:

Important Notes

HIV is commonly transmitted sexually by penile-anal intercourse. The receptive partner (bottom) is at much more risk, but the insertive partner (person putting his penis into the anus) can also get infected.

HIV is commonly transmitted sexually by penile-vaginal intercourse. The female is at more risk, but the male partner also can get infected.

HIV can be transmitted by oral sex and constitutes a high risk when performed without protection.

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This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

Last Reviewed: Sep 05, 2008

Carl   Fichtenbaum, MD Carl Fichtenbaum, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati

Pamposh   Kaul, MD Pamposh Kaul, MD
Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati