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Anal vs Vaginal Risk
Nov 20, 1996

Dear Rick: In the female, does the vaginal fluid or the anus have a larger amount of HIV present? For a male, is the risk of contracting AIDS from an infected femal greater with a single act of vaginal intercours or anal intercourse?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi.Thank you for your question.

Anal intercourse poses a higher level of risk than vaginal intercourse. During unprotected vaginal intercourse, the man is being exposed to vaginal secretions, and possibly menstrual blood as well. During anal intercourse, the man is being exposed to blood (bleeding is common during anal intercourse). Because blood contains higher levels of HIV than vaginal secretions, the risk of infection is greater during anal intercourse. Also, because of the increased amount of friction that occurs during anal intercourse, there is a greater chance for cuts/abrasions to occur in both partners. This makes HIV more likely to enter the bloodstream during anal intercourse (as compared to vaginal intercourse). Unprotected vaginal intercourse is considered high risk for both partners, but unprotected anal intercourse is considered even higher risk. If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide). Rick Sowadsky MSPH CDS



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