Is there a connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Yes. Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether the STD causes open sores or breaks in the skin (e.g., syphilis, herpes, chancroid) or does not cause breaks in the skin (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea).

If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, breaks or sores may make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even when the STD causes no breaks or open sores, the infection can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make HIV transmission more likely.

In addition, if an HIV-infected person is also infected with another STD, that person is three to five times more likely than other HIV-infected persons to transmit HIV through sexual contact.

Not having (abstaining from) sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid all STDs, including HIV. For those who choose to be sexually active, the following HIV prevention activities are highly effective:

  • Engaging in behaviors that do not involve vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex
  • Having sex with only one uninfected partner
  • Using latex condoms every time you have sex

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