Published January, 2011

Risk of HIV Infection Per Single Sexual Exposure to An Individual Living With HIV And Other Life Events With Comparable Risk of Occurrence, The Center for HIV Law and Policy (2011)

Much of the discrimination that PLWH experience -- from the workplace to the many criminal laws that target them -- is based on a gross misunderstanding of the actual routes and statistical likelihood of HIV transmission. There is a broad lack of understanding that, even without effective antiretroviral treatment that reduces the level of HIV virus in the system and consequently the risk of transmission, most sex with a person who has HIV does not result in transmission to their partner.  

This chart summarizes estimates on the actual per-act risk of HIV transmission through different types of sexual contact -- e.g., receptive and insertive vaginal or anal sex -- and then lists the risk of injury through life events that have a similar risk of occurring.

We created this short document to illustrate the fact that HIV is in fact a difficult virus to transmit, and to increase understanding of actual HIV transmission risks by comparing them to life events that cause immediate harm or death and pose a similar likelihood of happening.