HIV/Aids

Updated 21 October 2016

HIV: how high is your risk?

Use this table to find out what the predominant risk factors for HIV are.

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How high is your risk of getting HIV really? Whether you're gay, straight, HIV-positive or HIV-negative, you will find the following tables very interesting. In fact, they may save your life. Just like a condom could.

Your highest risk for contracting HIV, is having unprotected sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with someone who is busy becoming HIV-positive, who might think he/she is HIV-negative, but is in fact seroconverting. This is the time when the viral load is at its highest. In other words, it is actually statistically safer to have protected sex with someone who is HIV-positive, than it is to have unprotected sex with someone who thinks he/she is negative, but who is actually seroconverting.

Estimated per act risk for acquisition of HIV, by exposure route

Exposure routeRisk per 10 000 exposures to an infected sourcePercentage
Blood transfusion9 00090
Needle sharing IDU670,67
Receptive anal intercourse500,5
Percutaneous needle stick300,3
Receptive penile-vaginal intercourse100,1
Insertive anal intercourse6,50,065
Insertive penile-vaginal intercourse50.05
Receptive oral intercourse10,01
Insertive oral intercourse0,50,005

(Source: Centre for Disease Control)

The risk of HIV infection in heterosexual couples

HIV-positive woman with low viral loadNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
Only male with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Only female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Both male and female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
  
No condom  Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
HIV-positive woman with high viral loadNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
Only male with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
 
Only female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Both male and female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
  
No condom  Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
HIV-positive man with low viral loadNone Extremely lowSomeHigh
Only male with condom Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Only female with condom Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Both male and female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
  
No condom  Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex
HIV-positive man with high viral loadNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
Only male with condom Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Only female with condom Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Both male and female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
  
No condom   Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
Both male and female HIV-positiveNoneExtremely lowSome High
Only male with condom Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Only female with condom Oral sexVaginal sex
Anal sex*
 
Both male and female with condom Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex
  
No condom   Oral sex
Vaginal sex
Anal sex

* It is safer to withdraw even with a condom

The risk of HIV infection in gay couples

HIV-positive woman with low viral loadNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
One female with condom Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
  
Both females with condom Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
  
No condom  Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
HIV-positive woman with high viral loadNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
One female with condom Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
  
Both females with condom Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
  
No condom   Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
HIV-positive man with low viral loadNoneExtremely lowSome High
One male with condom Oral sex
Anal sex*
Shared sex toy
 
Both males with condom Oral sex
Shared sex toy
Anal sex* 
No condom  Oral sexAnal sex
Shared sex toy
HIV-positive man with high viral loadNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
One male with condom Oral sexAnal sex*
Shared sex toy
 
Both males with condom Oral sexAnal sex*
Shared sex toy
 
No condom   Oral sex
Anal sex
Shared sex toy
Both females HIV-positiveNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
One female with condom Oral sexClitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
 
Both females with condom Oral sex
Clitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
  
No condom  Oral sexClitoral rubbing
Shared sex toy
Both males HIV-positiveNoneExtremely lowSomeHigh
One male with condom Oral sexAnal sex*
Shared sex toy
 
Both males with condom Oral sexAnal sex*
Shared sex toy
 
No condom  Oral sexAnal sex
Shared sex toy

(Source: Morbidity and mortality weekly report: January 2005, CDC)

* It is safer to withdraw even with a condom

Those who have a higher viral load give their non-infected partners a higher risk of being infected with HIV than those with a lower viral load. If you are unsure about your partner's status, read on and you might just decide not to have unprotected sex.

Estimates published in the annual “UNAIDS Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic” in 2002 estimate that more than 40 million adults and children were infected with HIV around the world in 2001. Africa south of the Sahara desert accounts for 28 million of these adults and children. A recent study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) which was published in December 2002 estimated that 11.4% of South Africans (4.5 million people) are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Also this study clearly demonstrated that young women in South Africa in the age group 25-29 are more at risk for HIV infection.

This data is also supported by the annual Department of Health Ante-natal clinic (ANC) surveys that showed about 24.8% of pregnant women were HIV positive in 2001. This in turn indicates that many thousands of babies would have been infected by their mothers in South Africa during 1999 to 2001. By the end of 2003, it is estimated that there were 1 100 000 AIDS orphans (mother or both parents lost to AIDS) under 15 years of age in South Africa. During 2003, 370 000 people died of AIDS in South Africa.

 

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HIV/Aids expert

Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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