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HIV/AIDS Among Women Who Have Sex With Women

October 17, 2006

To date, there are no confirmed cases of female-to-female sexual transmission of HIV in the United States database (K. McDavid, CDC, oral communication, March 2005). However, case reports of female-to-female transmission of HIV and the well-documented risk of female-to-male transmission1 indicate that vaginal secretions and menstrual blood are potentially infectious and that mucous membrane (for example, oral, vaginal) exposure to these secretions has the potential to lead to HIV infection.


The following information comes from CDC unpublished data.

Risk Factors and Barriers to Prevention

Surveys of behavioral risk factors have been conducted in groups of women who have sex with women (WSW). These surveys generally have been of WSW samples that differ in criteria for participation, location for recruitment, and definition of WSW. As a result, the findings of these surveys cannot be generalized to all WSW. The findings have, however, suggested that some WSW have other behavioral risk factors, such as injection drug use and unprotected vaginal sex with men who have sex with men (MSM) or men who inject drugs.


Although there are no confirmed cases of female-to-female transmission of HIV, female sexual contact should be considered a possible means of transmission among WSW. These women need to know

Health care providers need to remember that sexual identity does not necessarily predict behavior and that some women who identify themselves as WSW or lesbian may be at risk for HIV infection through unprotected sex with men.


  1. CDC. HIV and AIDS: Are You at Risk?

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