Better Health Channel
  • HIV is a virus that can damage the immune system and make it difficult for the body to fight off some infections. 
  • HIV is not the same as AIDS. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS. AIDS is rare in Australia due to the availability of effective HIV treatments.
  • HIV spreads through blood and body fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, anal mucus and breastmilk).
  • HIV cannot be spread through – saliva or kissing, hugging or shaking hands, toilet seats, insect bites, sharing cutlery or crockery or by eating food prepared by a someone who has HIV.
  • HIV transmission can be prevented by – using condoms during sex, not sharing sterile injecting equipment or by taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a medication that prevents HIV in people at greater risk of infection with the virus.
  • People who are being treated for HIV and who achieve and maintain very low or undetectable levels of the virus cannot transmit HIV sexually. This is known as Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U).
  • Regular testing for HIV helps identify infection early, to enable treatment to start sooner. Not only does this protect your own health and wellbeing, but it also helps protect others from HIV. 
  • It is recommended that everyone who is sexually active get tested at least annually for HIV as part of routine health care. 
  • It is recommended that anyone with has multiple sexual partners, or is on PrEP, get tested for all sexually transmissible infections (STIs) – including HIV, 3 monthly, or at the very least, once a year.  

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Content on this website is provided for information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not in any way endorse or support such therapy, service, product or treatment and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. The information and materials contained on this website are not intended to constitute a comprehensive guide concerning all aspects of the therapy, product or treatment described on the website. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions and to ascertain whether the particular therapy, service, product or treatment described on the website is suitable in their circumstances. The State of Victoria and the Department of Health shall not bear any liability for reliance by any user on the materials contained on this website.

Reviewed on: 13-09-2023