Basic Questions and Answers About STDs and HIV
People who have STDs are more likely to get HIV, when compared to people who do not have STDs.
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 can also 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.
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 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 sexual behaviors
- Use condoms consistently and correctly;
- 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 pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, 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
- Use antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART reduces the amount of virus (viral load) in your blood and body fluids. ART can keep you healthy for many years, and greatly reduce your chance of transmitting HIV to sex partners, if taken consistently.
- Choose less risky sexual behaviors.
- Use condoms consistently and correctly.
The risk of getting HIV may also be reduced if your partner takes pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, after discussing this option with his or her healthcare provider and determining whether it is appropriate.
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.
Where Can I Get More Information?
Sexually Transmitted Diseases -- Home Page
HIV/AIDS and STDs -- Topic Page
CDC-INFO Contact Center
TTY: (888) 232-6348
CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849-6003
American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)
P.O. Box 13827
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827