Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was established as the cause of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1983. Ever since then, a lot of research has been conducted and a great deal of information has been generated regarding the ways HIV can be transmitted from one person to another.
The problem with much of the information about HIV transmission, especially on the Internet, is that it speaks in very general terms. All too often, advice from one site will directly contradict advice from another site as well. For example, some sources refer to oral sex as "risky," whereas others say it is "low risk" or "no risk." This can be very frustrating and it also leads to the spread of misinformation, and frequently a lot of unnecessary worry, about the transmission of HIV.
HIV infection—and HIV testing—is a medical issue. We have developed this lesson to provide straightforward and accurate information regarding HIV transmission. However, it is important to stress that this lesson—and other sources of HIV information on the Internet—should not be consulted as an alternative to medical care and testing. If you fear that you have been exposed to HIV—regardless of how low the perceived risk and no matter how much information you find on the Internet—you need to get in touch with your health care provider or an HIV testing center.