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Is there a connection between HIV and STDs?

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Updated June 11, 2006

Question: Is there a connection between HIV and STDs?
People often ask if there is a connection between other sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. There is a connection between the two. Take a look at the answer to this very good question.
Answer: Yes there is. Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether the STD causes open sores or breaks in the skin (e.g., syphilis, herpes, chancroid) or does not cause breaks in the skin (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea).

If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, breaks or sores may make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even when the STD causes no breaks or open sores, the infection can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make HIV transmission more likely.

In addition, if an HIV-infected person also is infected with another STD, that person is three to five times more likely than other HIV-infected persons to transmit HIV through sexual contact.

Not having (abstaining from) sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid STDs, including HIV. For those who choose to be sexually active, the following HIV prevention activities are highly effective:

  • Engaging in sex that does not involve vaginal, anal, or oral sex
  • Having intercourse with only one uninfected partner
  • Using latex condoms every time you have sex.

Source: Adapted from information provided by The Centers of Disease Control.

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