Living with HIV/AIDS  

HIV Transmission Through Transfusions

HIV transmission through blood transfusions and blood products has become rare in developed countries since they began screening all donated blood for HIV antibodies (1, 2, 3). Outside of developed countries, however, blood safety is not as predictably guaranteed.

HIV Transmission Through Transplants

A person can also be infected with HIV by receiving an organ, bone, or tissue transplant, because these body parts have blood in them. HIV has been transmitted through transplantations of kidneys, livers, hearts, pancreases, bones, and skin (1). The majority of HIV transmission through transplantation happened before 1985, when HIV antibody testing became available.

HIV Transmission Through Artificial Insemination

As of late 2003, 15 women worldwide are known to have been infected with HIV through artificial insemination using sperm from anonymous donors (1). All but one of these cases of insemination-related infection happened before 1985, when HIV antibody testing became available. Six of those 15 cases occurred in the United States. Since an estimated 75,000 women are artificially inseminated annually in the United States, it seems that HIV transmission from unrelated semen donors was an infrequent event prior to the availability of HIV testing (4).

Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend screening semen donors for HIV antibodies two times: first, on the day the semen is collected, and then six months later. The semen is frozen in the interim. If the donor is HIV+ six months after the donation, or if the donor does not return for his six-month check-up, his semen is not used (4).

1. Donegan, E. Transmission of HIV by Blood, Blood Products, Tissue Transplantation, and Artificial Insemination. HIV InSite Knowledge Base Chapter, October 2003. Retrieved on January 14, 2004 from

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fact Sheet: HIV and Its Transmission. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003. Retrieved on January 14, 2004 from

3. Kalichman, S. C. Preventing AIDS: A Sourcebook for Behavioral Interventions. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998.

4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for preventing transmission of human immunodeficiency virus through transplantation of human tissue and organs. MMWR 43(Suppl RR-8):1-17, 1994.

© Sociometrics Corporation, 2004