The link between STDs and HIV

In several studies conducted in the United States, it was found that 3 out of 10 people with gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis infection are also likely to be HIV positive or to become HIV positive in the future. The main reason cited by medical practitioners is their risky behavior that puts them at risk for one infection, often will also expose them to risks for other infections.  Those with STDs are more likely to also have HIV, because they acquired an STD infection from someone whose odds to be HIV positive is high, and may also have other forms of STD.  Categorically an STD rash, inflammation or sore precipitate direct HIV infection than an intact skin. The risk of spreading HIV is increased by STDs.

Analysis done on progress and prognosis of HIV-infected persons has established that they are more likely to communicate HIV when they have urethritis or a genital ulcer. Acquiring another STD such as gonorrhea or syphilis is indicative of their partiality to engage in unsafe sex (having sex without condoms). Possibly spreading HIV aids to their partners.

Discovering the connection of HIV to other STDs

Men who have sex with men consequentially raise the incidence of both syphilis and HIV in the US every year, which according to the latest report on STD incidence has now reached an epidemic proportion. 80.6% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases, in 2016, was ascribed to the rising prevalence of MSM.

HIV and gonorrhea exhibit more proximate link than HIV and chlamydia (which is predominant among young women). Typically herpes is also closely associated with HIV; persons infected with HSV-2 are 3 times more likely to acquire HIV.

The risk for both STDs and HIV are increased by the following activities:

  • Unsafe sex practices; vaginal, oral or anal sex without using a condom
  • Engaging in sex with multiple partners
  • Engaging in one night stands with strangers or preference for commercial sex partners
  • Having sex with lessened inhibitions (under the influence of drugs or alcohol) encouraging exposure to greater sexual risk.

Intensified STD treatments remove the risk of HIV?

No, treating STDs will not remove the risk for HIV. However, the close link between STD and HIV that was found in many studies suggests that treating STDs to some extent lessen the risk of HIV aids.  However, from studies conducted in HIV afflicted communities, the risk of HIV was lowered only in one community trial out 4 subjects.

Mwanza (Tanzania), within 2years the HIV incidence was lowered by 40% in the involved towns (1.2%) compared to other towns (1.9%).

In Rakai (Uganda), with more rigorous intervention composed of improved STD control and mass treatment was completed, the incidence of syphilis and trichomoniasis was lessened, but the incidence of HIV remained the same in both the intervention and comparison towns.

 In the third community, no difference in HIV incidence was found even with behavioral plus STD control interventions were completed, and also despite lowered rates of syphilis and gonorrhea.

 A fourth community trial even found that HIV incidence slightly increased in communities that were recipients of a combination of intervention and improved STD treatment.

People undergoing STD treatment also do not cut down their risk of getting HIV. It was found from 2 studies conducted on female sex workers who submit themselves to regular monthly STD testing compared to sex workers who submitted themselves to STD check only when they had STD symptoms.  And the comparison of female sex workers who received monthly treatment with azithromycin compared to those who did not.

Reduce the risk of getting STDs and HIV

Avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections so as not to acquire STDs if you are a sexually active person by doing the following:

  1. Be cautious with your sexual behaviors and preferences.
  2. Always be conscientious in following safe sex practices by using condoms in the most appropriate way.
  3. Be faithful to one partner, avoid one night stands as much as possible.
  4. Avoid risqué behaviors and attitudes to sex by reducing or limiting alcohol and eliminating drug use before and during sex.
  5. Be honest with your healthcare provider and seek STDs and HIV testing regularly if you are constantly exposed to the risks enumerated above.
  6. Consult with your healthcare provider about your eligibility for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP to prevent HIV infection if you are in the habit of continually ignoring precautionary recommendations.