Where does HIV have to travel in order for a heterosexual male to get infected?

Question

Dr. Bob,

If a heterosexual male was having unprotected sex with a female, where does HIV have to travel for that person to become infected?

Barring any cuts or scrapes in the genital or groin area, does it have to just get inside the opening at the end of the penis? Or does it have to travel into that opening and down / up the urethra further into the system?

They always say it's hard for a straight male to become infected and I wanted to make sure of the route of infection.

Thank You!

M.

Answer

Hi M,

HIV can permeate across mucous membranes. The urethra, pee hole, is lined with a mucous membrane. Hence, HIV merely needs to have access to that opening to potentially cause an infection. It really doesn't have to "travel!"

By the way, although it is more efficient for an infected male to transmit HIV to an uninfected female due to anatomy, that doesn't mean it's "difficult" for a uninfected male to become HIV infected from an HIV positive female via unprotected vaginal sex! It's all relative. Remember, worldwide HIV is predominantly spread by heterosexual contact. There are 34,000,000 of us infected. The vast majority of males living with HIV worldwide were infected via unsafe heterosexual sex.

Remember to cover your stump before you hump, OK?

Be safe. Be well.

Dr. Bob