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HIV & STD – Fact Sheet

HIV & STD – Fact Sheet

This  Resource Is Made Available To You From The CDC's Website. 

If you have an STD, you are more likely to get HIV or transmit it to others.

Are some STDs associated with HIV?

Yes. In the United States, people who get syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes often also have HIV, or are more likely to get HIV in the future.

Why does having an STD put me more at risk for getting HIV?

If you get an STD, you are more likely to get HIV than someone who is STD-free. This is because the same behaviors and circumstances that may put you at risk for getting an STD also can put you at greater risk for getting HIV. In addition, having a sore or break in the skin from an STD may allow HIV to more easily enter your body. If you are sexually active, get tested for STDs and HIV regularly, even if you don’t have symptoms.

What activities can put me at risk for both STDs and HIV?

  • Having anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom;
  • Having multiple sex partners;
  • Having anonymous sex partners;
  • Having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lower inhibitions and result in greater sexual risk-taking.

What can I do to prevent getting STDs and HIV?

The only 100% effective way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting STDs and HIV:

  • Choose less risky sex activities;
  • Use a new condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish);
  • Reduce the number of people with whom you have sex;
  • Limit or eliminate drug and alcohol use before and during sex;
  • Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider and ask whether you should be tested for STDs and HIV;
  • Talk to your healthcare provider and find out if either pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a good option for you to prevent HIV infection.

If I already have HIV, and then I get an STD, does that put my sex partner(s) at an increased risk for getting HIV?

It can. If you already have HIV, and then get another STD, it can put your HIV-negative partners at greater risk of getting HIV from you.

Your sex partners are less likely to get HIV from you if you

  • Get on and stay on treatment called antiretroviral therapy (ART). Taking HIV medicine as prescribed can make your viral load very low by reducing the amount of virus in your blood and body fluids. HIV medicine can make your viral load so low that a test can’t detect it (an undetectable viral load). If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to HIV-negative partners, even if you have other STDs.
  • Choose less risky sex activities.
  • Use a new condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish).

The risk of getting HIV also may be reduced if your partner takes PrEP medications, as prescribed, after discussing this option with his or her healthcare provider and determining whether it is appropriate. When taken as prescribed, PrEP medications are highly effective for preventing HIV from sex. PrEP is much less effective if it is not taken consistently. Since PrEP does not protect against other STDs, use condoms the right way every time you have sex.

Will treating STDs prevent me from getting HIV?

No. It’s not enough.

If you get treated for an STD, this will help to prevent its complications, and prevent spreading STDs to your sex partners. Treatment for an STD other than HIV does not prevent the spread of HIV.

If you are diagnosed with an STD, talk to your doctor about ways to protect yourself and your partner(s) from getting reinfected with the same STD, or getting HIV.

People who have STDs are more likely to get HIV, when compared to people who do not have STDs.

 

People who have an STD may be at an increased risk of getting HIV.1-3 One reason is the behaviors that put someone at risk for one infection (not using condoms, multiple partners, anonymous partners) often put them at risk for other infections. Also, because STDs and HIV tend to be linked, when someone gets an STD it suggests they got it from someone who may be at risk for other STDs and HIV. Finally, a sore or inflammation from an STD may allow infection with HIV that would have been stopped by intact skin.

STDs can increase the risk of spreading HIV.

People with HIV are more likely to shed HIV when they have urethritis or a genital ulcer.4, 5 When a person with HIV gets another STD, such as gonorrhea or syphilis, it suggests that they were having sex without using condoms. If so, they may have spread HIV to their partners. Antiretroviral treatment for HIV can prevent the transmission of HIV even from persons who have other STDs.6

Some STDs are more closely linked to HIV than others.

In the US, both syphilis and HIV are highly concentrated epidemics among men who have sex with men (MSM).7, 8 In 2018, MSM accounted for 77.6% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases among males in which sex of sex partner was known.9  In Florida, in 2010, among all persons diagnosed with infectious syphilis 42% were also HIV infected.10 Men who get syphilis are at very high risk of being diagnosed with HIV in the future; among HIV-uninfected men who got syphilis in Florida in 2003, 22% were newly diagnosed with HIV by 2011.2  HIV is more closely linked to gonorrhea than chlamydia (which is particularly common among young women).11  Herpes is also commonly associated with HIV; a meta-analysis found persons infected with HSV-2 are at 3-fold increased risk for acquiring HIV infection.12-14

Some activities can put people at increased risk for both STDs and HIV.

  • Having anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom;
  • Having multiple sex partners;
  • Having anonymous sex partners;
  • Having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lower inhibitions and result in greater sexual risk taking.

Does treating STDs prevent HIV?

Not by itself. Given the close link between STDs and HIV in many studies, it seems obvious that treating STDs should reduce the risk of HIV. However, most studies that have treated STDs to prevent HIV have not lowered the risk of HIV.6, 15-23

Screening for STDs can help assess a person’s risk for getting HIV. Treatment of STDs is important to prevent the complications of those infections, and to prevent transmission to partners, but it should not be expected to prevent spread of HIV.

What can people do to reduce their risk of getting STDs and HIV?

The only 100% effective way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If people are sexually active, they can do the following things to lower their chances of getting STDs and HIV:

  • Choose less risky sexual behaviors;
  • Use a new condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish);
  • Reduce the number of people with whom they have sex;
  • Limit or eliminate drug and alcohol use before and during sex;
  • Have an honest and open talk with their healthcare provider and ask whether they should be tested for STDs and HIV.
  • Talk with their healthcare provider and find out if either pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP, is a good option for them to prevent HIV infection.

If someone already has HIV, and subsequently gets an STD, does that put their sex partner(s) at an increased risk for getting HIV?

If the person living with HIV gets and maintains an undetectable viral load by taking antiretroviral treatment, then an STD does not increase the risk of transmitting HIV.6 However, HIV-infected persons who are not taking antiretroviral treatment may be more likely to transmit HIV when they have another STD.

HIV-negative sex partners of people with HIV can prevent HIV if:

  • HIV-positive people use antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed. ART reduces the amount of virus (viral load) in blood and body fluids. People with HIV who take ART, as prescribed, to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load can stay healthy for many years, and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to sexual partners.
  • Sex partners take PrEP medications, as prescribed, after discussing this option with their healthcare provider and determining whether it is appropriate.
  • Partners choose less risky sex activities.
  • Partners use a new condom for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish).

Will treating someone for STDs prevent them from getting HIV?

No. It’s not enough. Screening for STDs can help assess a person’s risk for getting HIV.  Treatment of STDs is important to prevent the complications of those infections, and to prevent transmission to partners, but it should not be expected to prevent spread of HIV.

If someone is HIV-positive and is diagnosed with an STD, they should receive counseling about risk reduction and how to protect their sex partner(s) from getting re-infected with the same STD or getting HIV.