A Banner Publication
June 7, 2007 – No. 10
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Risk Factors and Causes

Contrary to common beliefs and stereotypes, any person of any age, race, gender, or sexual orientation can become infected with HIV. Rather, it is certain behaviors and conditions that cause infection. You are at higher risk if you:

  • Have unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) with multiple partners or a partner who is HIV-positive. Unprotected sex is sex without use of a latex condom every time.

  • Share or reuse needles during intravenous drug use.

  • Have another sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis.

  • Received an accidental needle stick, which happens infrequently to health care workers.

  • Received a blood transfusion prior to 1985 before standard testing for HIV began.

  • Were born to an infected woman. An HIV-positive woman can transmit the virus to her child during childbirth or through breast-feeding. If a woman receives treatment for HIV during pregnancy, she reduces her baby’s risk by two-thirds.