Positively Adopted

Living with children who have HIV

How do you get HIV?

According to:

  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • US Department of Health and Human Services (AIDS.gov)
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • NYU Medical Center
  • The National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Disease
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • UNAIDS – The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS
  • The American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMfar)
  • University of California Medical Center 

HIV is transmitted in 3 main ways: 

  1.  Having sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with someone infected with HIV
  2.  Sharing needles and syringes with someone infected with HIV
  3.  Being exposed (fetus or infant) to HIV before or during birth or through breast feeding

HIV is a fragile virus. It cannot live long outside the body and it is only transmitted through these very specific means. As a result, it CAN NOT transmitted through day-to-day activities such as shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, drinking fountain, doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets. You also cannot get HIV from mosquitoes.

The ONLY body fluids that have been shown to contain transmittable concentrations of HIV are:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • breast milk

There is no need to wear gloves when changing the diaper of a child with HIV because feces and urine do not transmit HIV. Saliva also does not transmit the virus so there is no worry about spit, vomit, sneezing, etc.

Some people fear that HIV might be transmitted in other ways; however, no scientific evidence to support any of these fears has been found. If HIV were being transmitted through other routes (such as through air, water, or insects), the pattern of reported AIDS cases would be much different from what has been observed. For example, if mosquitoes could transmit HIV infection, many more young children and preadolescents would have been diagnosed with AIDS. 

All reported cases suggesting new or potentially unknown routes of transmission are thoroughly investigated by state and local health departments with the assistance, guidance, and laboratory support from CDC. 

  • No additional routes of transmission have been recorded, despite a national sentinel system designed to detect just such an occurrence. 
According to Dr. Joel Gallant of John Hopkins School of Medicine... "Don't spend time worrying about weird and obscure ways of transmitting the virus. The simple fact is that if no one shared needles and everyone wore condoms, the HIV epidemic would disappear."

According to Dr. Joel Gallant, Professor of Medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist,

"Don't spend time worrying about weird and obscure ways of transmitting the virus. The simple fact is that if no one shared needles and everyone wore condoms, the HIV epidemic would disappear."

" When asked if he is safe or if it is carried in saliva, or if he can be hugged, or if he can share a spoon, I gently remind "Please don't have sex, or do drugs with my 3 year old, and you will be perfectly safe." 


"I have no fears that HIV will be transmitted to anyone else in the family because it can only be transmitted in 3 ways: 1. mother to child transmission through birth or breast feeding.  She is neither giving birth nor breast feeding anyone else in our home so no worries there. 2. sharing contaminated needles.  I am very certain there are currently no intravenous drug users in the house, so strike 2.  3. Sexual contact.  

If the children in my home are having sex with each other then I have even bigger problems, don't I?" -Traci