HIV, sex and risk

This resource is about sexual transmission of HIV. 

Although most people know what is high or low risk there is less confidence about the middle ground in between these extremes. 

If one person has sex without a condom they are unlikely to become HIV positive. But if 10,000 people have sex without condoms, it is very likely that some will become HIV positive. Even if they all have exactly the same type of sexual risk.

Understanding risk is also not always easy and is something that is not really taught in school.

So we might worry most about things that are never likely to affect us, such as plane crashes and bird flu.

On the one hand we convince ourselves that things we enjoy are low risk (“it will never happen to me”).

On the other hand, some very low risk things are so scary that we can worry out of all proportion to the likelihood that it will happen (“I’m sure I am HIV positive”).

Last updated: 1 June 2021.