Woman->Man less common than Man->Woman?

Question

I'm not sure if this is true (perhaps you can confirm this), but I've heard that it's tougher for a guy to get HIV from a woman than the other way around, simply because the male has a lot more obvious fluid being introduced into the woman's body. Is this true, generally? Thanks.

Answer

Hi. Thank you for your question. Generally speaking, when we're talking about HIV and many other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's), during either vaginal or anal intercourse, it is easier for these diseases to be transmitted from male-to-female, than from female-to-male. This is because male-to-female transmission is a more efficient way for many of these diseases to go from one partner to another. For diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B, the woman is being exposed for prolonged periods of time to the man's semen. Also during vaginal intercourse, generally speaking, a woman is being exposed to greater quantities of semen, than the quantities of vaginal secretions that a man is exposed to.

Many men have incorrectly interpreted this to mean that they are at low risk of infection. This is incorrect! During vaginal and anal intercourse, the insertive partner is at high risk, and the receptive partner is at even higher risk (assuming the other partner is infected). Note that neither partner is at low risk. Also remember that most of the world's HIV/AIDS cases are among heterosexuals, not intravenous (IV) drug users or homosexuals/bisexuals.

So in general, during intercourse, for HIV and many other STD's, it is easier for a man to give an infection to a woman, than it is for a woman to give an infection to a man. But this does not mean that the man is at low risk. Again, during intercourse, the insertive partner is at high risk, and the receptive partner is at even higher risk.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).