Mucous membranes are found inside the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth. Body fluids that can transmit HIV include:
- Vaginal secretions
- Rectal secretions
- Breast milk
Sweat, tears or saliva cannot transmit HIV.
There are several ways that HIV is transmitted. The most common of which are:
This is the most well-known form of transmission. The virus can enter through the linings of the vagina, penis, rectum, and mouth when performing sexual acts and having sexual intercourse.
Sharing of Needles
This is another common means of transmission and getting infected. Drug dependents who use heroin typically share the syringes that they use for injecting the drugs into their body. The used needles can become contaminated by the blood of infected users. Anyone who uses a used needle runs the risk of getting infected.
Birth and Breastfeeding
Children who are born to mothers with HIV/AIDS and those who are breastfed by an infected person can become infected as well. Keep in mind that breast milk is one of the body fluids that carry a high material load of the virus.
Cases of HIV due to blood transfusions are few due to the stricter screenings of blood donors. In this case, patients become infected because of tainted blood.
How Can HIV Affect the Body: Initial Stages of Infection
Once the virus gets into the body of a person, the infection takes place right away. How can HIV affect the body?
As mentioned earlier, the symptoms of the initial stage of the infection can show within days or weeks after the virus is contracted. While flu-like symptoms are common in the initial stage, not everyone will experience these.
The symptoms are caused by the rapid increase of the virus inside the body, which will cause CD4 cells to drop drastically. CD4 cells simply are white blood cells that are important in fighting off infection.
As the body reacts, the CD4 cells multiply again without reaching the pre-infection levels.
Because of the high presence of the virus within the body, this initial stage of the infection is when a person is most likely to transmit it.