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CHANCES OF HAVING AIDS WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE AN STD
Oct 16, 1996

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES THAT ONE WILL HAVE AIDS WHEN THEY THINK THEY HAVE ALREADY BEEN EXPOSED TO AN STD? ARE YOU MORE AT RISK OF GETTING AIDS WHEN YOU HAVE AN STD?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

If a person has a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), they may indeed be at risk for HIV as well. This is because if a person has an STD, it indicates that they were not adequately protecting themselves from infections. It also indicates that they may not have been practicing safer sex.

Also if a person has certain STD's like herpes or syphilis (or other diseases where there are open lesions), they may actually be at INCREASED risk for HIV. This is because HIV must have a direct access to the bloodstream in order to infect someone. If they have an open lesion, this gives HIV a much easier access to the bloodstream. So having STD's causing lesions, like herpes, actually increases your risk of HIV infection.

It is also important to remember that HIV/AIDS is one of the more difficult STD's to get. Some STD's, like genital warts, syphilis, and herpes (among others) can be transmitted by physical contact with an infected person (usually by direct genital contact). Since physical contact with lesions and discharges can lead to infection with various STD's, they are much more infectious than HIV. Remember, HIV must get into your bloodstream in order to infect you. That's not the case with many other STD's.

It is important to remember that sexual activities that may be low risk for HIV could be high risk for other diseases. For example, mutual masturbation is low risk for HIV, but could be high risk for syphilis, herpes, or genital warts. Also some STD's that are transmitted the same way as HIV are more infectious than HIV. One example of this is the Hepatitis B virus. This virus is transmitted the same way as HIV, but is 100 times more infectious. There's a lot more Hepatitis B virus in blood and other body fluids, as compared to HIV. Since Hepatitis B is transmitted the same way as HIV, putting yourself at risk for Hepatitis B means you're simultaneously putting yourself at risk for HIV. The only difference is that Hepatitis B is more infectious than HIV. There are other STD's that are less infectious than HIV, but all in all, if you're exposed to one STD, you may simultaneously be exposed to others at the same time.

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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