HIV basics

Fear of HIV testing

HIV is not an easy virus to catch sexually.

Compared to the numbers of people who have sex each year, only a tiny percentage of people will become HIV positive.

The chance of not getting HIV is always much higher than getting HIV. This is the case even when one partner is HIV positive and the other is HIV negative.

However, it also only takes one exposure for an infection to occur. An exposure is any situation where there would be a risk of transmission if one partner was HIV positive.

Many new infections, perhaps most, come from people who do not know their HIV status.

Someone who is very recently infected (within the last month or two) is likely to think they are still HIV negative.

But this is the time when someone is also at their most infectious because in the first few months the amount of virus is at its highest.

In nearly every country, 25-50% of HIV positive people have not been diagnosed. This percentage will only be reduced when HIV testing becomes a normal, routine part of health care.

Last updated: 1 June 2016.