Can You Get HIV From Having Sex With Someone Who Has AIDS?

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Can You Get HIV From Having Sex With Someone Who Has AIDS?

If you have sex with someone who has AIDS, not HIV, can you still get HIV?
- Sarah*

Yes. People who have AIDS are still infected with the HIV virus. This means they can pass HIV on to others.

AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is caused by a type of virus called the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV for short. When someone gets HIV, that person can transmit the infection to other people immediately. But it takes a while for HIV to fully develop into the condition called AIDS. People who have AIDS are still HIV positive and can transmit the virus to others.

HIV is passed from one person to another when it is spread from the inside of an infected person's body to the inside of another person's body. Having unprotected sex with an infected person is one way the virus spreads because during sex, infected fluids — such as semen (the fluid released from the penis when a male ejaculates), vaginal fluids, or blood — are passed from one person to another. Someone can become infected even if only tiny amounts of these fluids are spread.

You can't tell if someone is infected with HIV. Often the only way to know is through testing. In fact, people who are HIV positive might not even know that they have the virus. Most of the signs that someone has HIV don't show up until that person has developed full-blown AIDS.

Make sure anyone you're thinking of having sex with is tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) before you have sex. Then use condoms EVERY time you have sex — including oral, vaginal, or anal sex. Using condoms is important even when both people have had negative tests because it can take up to 6 months for an HIV test to show up as positive after a person has become infected with the virus.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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