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 – the ‘route’ of infection.
  • Other risk factors – including viral load, type of sex, genetics etc.

Only some body fluids have the potential to be infectious.

In someone not taking HIV treatment (ART), these include:

  • Sexual fluids (semen and vaginal fluid).
  • Mucus from the vagina and anus.
  • Blood.
  • Drinking breastmilk is infectious to a baby but not to an adult.
  • Tears (from crying) might be a theoretical risk. This is unlikely to be an actual risk.
  • Saliva, spit, urine and faeces are not infectious for HIV.

HIV positive people taking effective ART are NOT sexually infectious. (See U=U).

Last updated: 1 June 2021.