A project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
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Fact Sheet Number 152
HOW RISKY IS IT?
WHAT’S MY RISK OF GETTING
INFECTED WITH HIV?
Most people know how HIV is transmitted
(see fact sheet 150). They also know
about safer sex guidelines (see fact sheet
151). However, they may still be exposed
to HIV. This can be by accident or
because they take part in some risky
always want to know how likely it is that
they got infected with HIV.
THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES!
You can’t be sure that you’re not infected
with HIV unless you are 100% certain that
you did not engage in any risky behavior
and that you were not exposed to any
The only way to know for sure whether
you have been infected is to get tested.
You should wait for 3 months after a
possible exposure. Then get an HIV blood
test (see fact sheet 102).
You might feel that you have been
exposed to HIV by sharing needles, an
accident, or unsafe sexual activity. In
these cases, talk to your health care
provider immediately. Ask whether you
can use HIV treatments to prevent
infection. Fact sheet 156 has more
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several
studies were done to assess the risk of
HIV infection from specific types of
exposure to HIV. These calculations only
give a general idea of risk. They can tell
you which activities carry a higher or
lower risk. They cannot tell you if you
have been infected.
If the risk is 1 in 100, for example, it
doesn’t mean that you can engage in that
activity 99 times without any risk of
becoming infected. You might become
infected with HIV after a single
exposure. That can happen the first
time you engage in a risky activity.
Also, these studi