Factors That Can Increase HIV Transmission
Research on heterosexual transmission has shed some light on the factors that can increase transmission:
• Years ago, studies from Africa demonstrated that the amount of virus in a person’s blood is a major determinant of whether a person’s partner gets infected, whether they are male or female. In general, women need more virus in the blood to infect a man than a man needs to infect a woman. However, if we reduce the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels (through treatment with medications), almost no transmission occurs!
• Uncircumcised men are at increased risk of being infected by women. This has resulted in massive campaigns in many African countries to get men circumcised in communities where it is not commonly practiced.
• In addition to this, the presence of an STD (e.g. gonorrhea, herpes, Chlamydia, syphilis) can increase infection by a couple of ways. First, the infection increases the production of HIV in semen or vaginal fluid, so the partner is exposed to more virus. Second, the infection damages the mucous membranes making it easier for HIV cross. Women may often have no symptoms of an STD and may not seek care in a timely manner.
What’s one factor that can help decrease HIV transmission? Sharing knowledge and helping to dispel these dangerous myths. Tell your coworkers the facts – it may help save lives!