Sex, Drugs & BBVs – What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). HIV damages the immune system leading to serious infections if left untreated.

HIV is spread by anal or vaginal sex without a condom, from mother to baby (during childbirth or breastfeeding) and by sharing injecting equipment. In rare cases HIV is spread through oral sex and sharps injuries. HIV is not spread through kissing, sharing cups and cutlery, normal social contact, toilet seats or mosquitos.

Some people have no symptoms for years until the disease progresses to AIDS; others may experience flu-like symptoms, extreme fatigue, weight loss and mouth ulcers.


  • Always use a condom with water-based lubricant.
  • Always use new sterile injecting equipment when injecting drugs
  • Always ensure you go to a licensed body piercing/tattooing parlour

There is no known cure for HIV.

For information about HIV in your area contact your local drug user organisation or your local AIDS council.