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Studies on women & HIV transmission
Aug 10, 2001

Thank you Dr. Aberg for your help regarding keeping safe if engaging in sex with other women. My follow up question is concerned with whether or not there are any current studies being done or have they recently completed any research regarding women to women transmission, or even women to men transmission of STDs ( of which HIV is just one) Where can I get more information on this? What about if you are a woman (HIV-) in a relationship with an HIV+ woman? A concerned woman

Response from Dr. Aberg

Since your first question, I cannot tell you how amazed I am that there is very little information regarding women to women transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. For almost every study, people are characterized by gender, age and race. Sexual orientation is usually described as men, women and men who have sex with men!

I have asked several colleagues of all sexual orientations and everyone was just as amazed at the lack of information. I encourage you to go to the following site: This is a site by the Center for Disease Control(CDC). Click on the section "tracking the hidden epidemics..." This will help with some general questions about STD's. There are many other documents on this web site that address HIV and STD's but unfortunately I could not find anything very specific about lesbians. I also did a medline search and again, there is little data. I suppose I could go off on a social commentary but I will limit my response to answering the medical questions.

You have certainly pointed out an area that needs further studying. We do know that women can give other women HIV and STD's but I do not know the actual risk. As with any two people, there are multiple factors which may increase or decrease the risk. As I suggested before, you should practice safe sex which means using a dental dam during oral sex. Any shared sex devices and toys should be washed between use. Look over the CDC web page. If you find anything addressing transmission of HIV and/or STD's among lesbians, Let me know.

woman to woman transmission
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