HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is spread when semen, vaginal fluids or blood from an infected person enters another person's body, according to WebMD. The transmission usually occurs during sexual contact, while sharing needles when injecting drugs, or from mother to baby during birth.
Once HIV is in the body, it starts to destroy the white blood cells that help the body fight infection and disease, called CD4+ cells, explains WebMD. Human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that causes AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. An HIV test is used to confirm the diagnosis. Medications can help suppress the virus and delay the onset of AIDS.
Because HIV does not survive well outside of the body, the virus cannot be spread from one person to another through casual contact in social settings, such as schools, stores and offices, states WebMD. HIV is not spread through tears, sweat, urine or feces; there is no risk of contracting the virus by sharing drinking glasses or engaging in casual kissing. HIV is not spread by vaccines made from blood products, such as the hepatitis B vaccine, nor do insects spread it. Blood-sucking insects, such as mosquitoes, do not inject blood into individuals that they bite. HIV can not be contracted from touching objects, such as door handles, toilet seats or faucet handles.