Which body fluids are infectious?

The risk of HIV transmission is related to different factors.

These include:

  • Which body fluids are infectious.
  • How infection occurs – often called the ‘routes of infection’.
  • Other risk factors including viral load, type of sex, genetics etc.

Only some bodily fluids have the potential to be infectious.

These include:

  • Sexual fluids (semen and vaginal fluid).
  • Mucus from the vagina and anus.
  • Blood.
  • Breastmilk is infectious to a baby but is unlikely to be infectious to an adult.
  • Tears may be infectious but this is more a theoretical caution than a likely route of actual transmission.
  • Saliva, spit, urine and faeces are not infectious for HIV.

Last updated: 1 June 2016.