Can HIV be Transmitted Through Mosquito Bites?

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A leg with a Mosquito Bites

Overview

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can infect anyone regardless of age and race. According to HIV.gov, nearly 40 million people around the globe were infected with HIV in 2015. Because the virus is asymptomatic, 40% of these people were not aware of their condition.

HIV can deteriorate the immune system and make it highly vulnerable to diseases and infections. If left untreated, the virus can progress into acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS.

HIV can spread through certain fluids transferred by means of, for example, blood transfusion, oral sex, and breastfeeding. No research, however, has shown that insects like vector mosquitoes can transmit the virus.

Vector Mosquitoes

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the mosquito is the “greatest menace” of all insect vectors because it causes several million deaths yearly. In 2014, Bill Gates wrote that the mosquito, which takes 725,000 lives every year, is the deadliest animal in the world (followed by humans, snakes, and dogs).

The mosquito spreads deadly diseases like dengue, malaria, chikungunya, Zika virus, West Nile virus, and Japanese encephalitis. Malaria, for one, remains a major global threat with more than 200 million cases worldwide in 2015 alone.

can mosquito transmit HIV?

HIV and Its Transmission

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that progressively deteriorates the body’s immune system. HIV attacks and reduces the number of CD4 or T cells, which are responsible for fighting off body infections. This is why when left untreated, HIV virus can totally impair the immune system and make the body even more susceptible to infections, viruses, and diseases. HIV can eventually become a full-grown AIDS.

The virus can be transmitted through body fluids including blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluids (pre-cum), vaginal fluids, and rectal fluids. HIV transmission happens when HIV-transmitting fluids come in contact with a damaged tissue or a mucous membrane, which can be found in the mouth, rectum, penis, and vagina. HIV can also be transmitted intravenously into the bloodstream using needles or syringes.

There are also atypical means of transmitting HIV from one victim to another, such as the following:

Mother-to-child transmission

According to WHO, HIV-positive mothers can transmit HIV to their child during the last two semesters of their pregnancy, during the delivery, and in the course of breastfeeding.
This is why mothers infected with HIV are advised to consider replacement feeding to avoid HIV transmission.

 Oral sex

HIV in cum or precum can be transmitted if the HIV victim emits semen in his partner’s mouth. HIV transmission through oral sex, however, is low-risk if the victim is taking medications.

 Blood transfusion

In India, for one, more than 2,000 people acquired HIV through blood transfusion.
This can be prevented by screening the blood for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Via open wound

This can happen when infected body fluids like blood and saliva come into contact with an open wound during, for example, deep, open-mouth kissing between two persons with HIV, bleeding gums, and mouth sores. There were also a few cases of HIV transmission where the new HIV victim acquired the virus after an HIV-positive person beat him.

Extensive research, however, has shown that HIV cannot be transmitted through insect bites, including the mosquito bite.

Why Can Mosquito Bites not Transmit HIV?

Mosquitoes can spread diseases like dengue and malaria through the biological transmission. They suck the infected host’s blood and then transmit the infection or the virus by excreting its saliva into the new host. It was theorized that HIV can be spread the same way.

Another theory was HIV can also be transmitted through the mechanical transmission.
The mosquito that was feeding on an HIV-positive host got interrupted. Then the mosquito with the infected blood on its snout sucked the blood of a new host, thereby infecting him.

Studies, however, show that mosquitoes cannot transmit HIV either “biologically” or “mechanically” because mosquitoes lack the host cells or the human T cells. HIV just dies inside the mosquito’s stomach. The virus cannot live long enough to get into the insect’s saliva, which normally carries infections and viruses. Mosquitoes excrete saliva into their hosts when feeding to prevent blood coagulation. Another reason is that the amount of blood and the level of HIV in the blood that the mosquito ingested may not be sufficient enough to infect the host.

Conclusion

Because mosquito’s snout (proboscis) functions like a needle and syringe, it can be probable that mosquito bites can transmit HIV or AIDS virus. Extensive studies, however, have proven that it is impossible because the virus cannot survive inside the mosquito’s gut. It lacks the host cells that allows HIV to replicate inside the mosquito’s stomach and be transmitted through the mosquito’s saliva. Aside from this, mosquitoes ingest and carry a very little amount of blood that may contain a very insignificant level of HIV.