Previous studies have demonstrated that pregnant women are at greater risk of HIV infection. However, a new study, presented at the International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh in May seems to demonstrate that men have almost double the risk of HIV infection if their partner is pregnant and HIV+. The study, conducted in 7 countries in Africa, involved over 3,300 serodiscordant (one partner is HIV+ and the other is not) couples. Over two years and 800+ pregnancies it was demonstrated that pregnancy increased the risk of HIV infection for both males and females. The study reports that several factors other than pregnancy, such as sexual behavior, probably contributed to the increased risk for women. However, even when accounting for those factors and even circumcision, the heightened risk for men seemed much more direct. The researchers theorized that certain physiological and immunological changes that occur in a woman during pregnancy may be behind this remarkable finding. Therefore, further study to zero in on these changes is warranted. However, for those who may feel that pregnancy gives one a "free pass" as far as the concern of the woman getting pregnant, this study demonstrates that it is even more imperative to use protection, especially if HIV status is unknown.
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