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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke April 19, 2022

No, living with someone who is HIV positive doesn’t mean you’ll get it, too

If Your Time is short

  • HIV is primarily spread through anal or vaginal sex or by sharing needles. For transmission to occur any other way — including casual contact, biting, kissing and spitting — ”something very unusual would have to happen,” the CDC says. 
 

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus that attacks the immune system and can lead to AIDS. A recent Facebook post warns that if you live with someone who has HIV, you’re likely to contract it.

"If your roommate catches HIV, you will be exposed to it and will probably contract it too, given long enough," the post says. "There is no cure."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Most people get HIV through anal or vaginal sex or by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As for oral sex, interacting in a workplace, getting medical care, eating food handled by someone with HIV, biting or spitting, kissing, and touching, "there is little to no risk of getting HIV," the CDC says. "For transmission to occur, something very unusual would have to happen." 

HIV doesn’t survive long outside the human body, so it’s not transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks or other insects; through saliva, tears or sweat; by hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, or sharing dishes; or through the air. 

Plus, for HIV-positive folks who are engaged in sexual activity, there is medication available that can keep their viral load down, giving them "effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners." That’s because you can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain bodily fluids from someone with HIV who has a detectable viral load, HIV.gov explains on its website. 

Johns Hopkins Medicine has a few suggestions for protecting yourself against HIV: don’t have sex or share needles. And if you do have sex, use a condom, get tested for HIV and make sure your partners do, too.

Notably, it doesn’t discourage people from living with someone who has HIV as a means of protection. That’s because it’s not accurate that you will probably contract HIV if your roommate has it.

In 2009, a New York Times columnist dealt with a question from the roommate of someone who was HIV positive.

"I believe he need not tell housemates about his status," the person seeking advice wrote, but added that "many disagree, saying that household items — a razor, a toothbrush — could be used accidentally." 

The Times quoted epidemiologist Dr. Paul Marantz, who said that "the risk of transmission from household contacts is very low." 

We rate this post False.

 

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No, living with someone who is HIV positive doesn’t mean you’ll get it, too

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