By Rupam Jain

Can you get HIV from kissing or Social Contact?

Can you get HIV form kissing or social contact?
Can you get HIV form kissing or social contact?

No, you cannot catch HIV neither from kissing nor from regular social contact like shaking hands, sharing drink or food, sharing toilets or baths and hugging as long as both the individuals don’t have any open wounds.

HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system and is contagious. The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months after being infected, many are unaware of their status until the later stages. In the first few weeks after initial infection people may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat.

As the infection progressively weakens the immune system, other signs and symptoms develop such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and cough. Without treatment, they could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis (TB), cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections, and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

HIV is transmitted only through certain body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluid and breast milk which makes it obvious that it is not transmitted via saliva, sweat, skin, faeces or urine. The most common way through which HIV can spread is through unprotected sexual contact which includes oral, vaginal and anal sex. It can also be transmitted via sharing of needles, sharing of blades, sharing of tattoo equipment without sterilising it between uses, blood transfusion of blood containing HIV and organ transplant that contains HIV.

HIV can even get transmitted to the child from HIV positive pregnant mothers during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. It is important to note that people with HIV who are taking ART and are virally suppressed do not transmit HIV to their sexual partners. Early access to (Antiretroviral Therapy) ART and support to remain on treatment is therefore critical not only to improve the health of people from HIV but also to prevent HIV transmission.

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