My Mum once told me it’s important to get tested for STDs upon starting a sexual relationship, as either partner could unknowingly have HIV. At the time, I assumed that meant that some people are born with HIV and it lays dormant, the carrier never knowing until they get tested or a partner contracts it and develops symptoms. It had me scared of even kissing anyone up until recently, out of concern that they or I might have it and not be aware. I did some Googling today, and well… this really doesn’t seem to be how it works.
I feel pretty silly now, but I want to be sure… If I’ve never had sex, and my partner’s never had sex with anyone who’s HIV positive, that means neither of us could possibly have it, right?
Hi @bigblue, thanks for asking this question. You are mostly right, with a couple rare exceptions! It is possible to get HIV from non-sexual contact, but in Australia at least, that’s pretty unlikely.
HIV can be passed if someone’s blood gets into your bloodstream (e.g. by sharing injecting needles) or from mother-to-child in pregnancy/birth or breastfeeding. If either of you have ever shared needles (e.g. using drugs or getting homemade tattoos) then you should get tested for HIV & Hepatitis C. If either of you were born with HIV, you would know by now, as you’d need to be on treatment.
You definitely can’t get HIV from kissing, hugging or touching so that’s always safe. If you’re having penetrative sex, condoms protect against HIV & other STIs 🙂