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Last Updated: Aug 28, 2023

HIV & STD - How Are They Related?

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Dr. Rajiva GuptaGeneral Physician • 44 Years Exp.MBBS, MD - Internal Medicine, Post Graduate Program in Diabetology
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The general acceptance is that, when someone suffers from Sexually Transmitted Disease or STD, the risk of getting affected by HIV increases for that particular person. This is true for both biological as well as for behavioral reasons.

HIV is one of the diseases which are caused as a result of sexual transmission. Before knowing the exact link between HIV and STD, understanding what the two concepts exactly are, would be beneficial.

Let us now look at the two concepts in detail:

STD - 

  • As already mentioned earlier, STD basically stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease. This is used to refer to a condition that gets passed from one person to another by way of sexual contact. 
  • A person can develop a Sexually Transmitted Disease if anyone has unprotected sex either in the vagina, anal or orally with someone, who is already carrying a STD.
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease can also be sometimes called as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) or even as Venereal Disease.
  • Still, this does not mean that sex is the only medium through which sexually transmitted diseases get transmitted from one person to another. On the basis of specific diseases under this, one can also get plagued by infections while sharing needles as well as breastfeeding.

Now, we will discuss the symptoms of STD in men and women, which would give a clear picture as to how do they differ between the two sexes:
Symptoms in Men -

  • Though there is a possibility that Sexually Transmitted Diseases may not come up with any kind of symptoms, still certain diseases under this do have some obvious symptoms. 
  • Among men, some of the common symptoms include:
  • Discomfort or Pain experienced while having sex or at the time of urination.
  • Men could also notice sores, bumps or rashes on or close to the penis, testicles, anus, buttocks, thighs and even mouth.
  • There could be unusual discharge or even bleeding from the penis.
  • Testicles might get swollen or they could cause a lot of pain.

Symptoms in Women -
Some of the common symptoms of STD among women include:

  • Discomfort or pain suffered at the time of having sex or while urinating.
  • Rashes or sores around the vagina, thighs, anus or mouth.
  • Unusual kind of discharge or bleeding from the vagina
  • Itchy feeling in or just around the vagina.

Types of STDs
HIV happens to be one of the STDs. Other diseases include:

Now, let us talk about HIV in detail:
HIV is a kind of virus that tends to damage the immune system. The immune system primarily helps the human body in fighting against infections and different kinds of diseases. HIV that is untreated causes infection and also goes on to kill CD4 cells, which are a kind of immune cell known as T cells.

Some of the early symptoms include:

Though these symptoms getaway within a month people can even carry HIV without having serious or any kind of symptoms that persist and live for many years.

Some of those symptoms are:

The relation between STD and HIV

Research suggests that Sexually Transmitted Diseases like Gonorrhea and Syphilis not only look to provide HIV very easy access to cells and tissues of the body that are vulnerable but also STD co-infection can actually lead to an increase in the infections of the person with HIV, hence making them more probable towards transmitting the virus to others.

People, who are already suffering from Sexually Transmitted Diseases, can increase their susceptibility towards HIV through a number of ways. They are as follows:

  • Some kind of Sexually Transmitted Diseases can lead to open wounds or ulcers to get formed in the genital area. These kinds of wounds can provide the virus called HIV, a direct entry into a person’s blood.
  • Certain diseases that are sexually transmitted, do not result in having open wounds but the presence of the infection itself can cause one’s body to have an increase in the concentration of CD4 T-cells in the genital region. 
  • The fact has been well established that increase in the concentration of these CD4 T-cells can give HIV with quite a favorable target for spreading the infection.
  • People, who are infected with a Sexually Transmitted Disease or STD, also have quite heavy concentrations of HIV in the liquids of semen and also in the vaginal fluid. This leads to an increase in the possibility of HIV transmission.
  • A study has even proved that Men having got infected with HIV and Gonorrhea, have HIV, at least 10 times more in their seminal fluid than those who are only infected with HIV.

Some of the major concerns are Sexually Transmitted Diseases like Infective Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Herpes, with the strong evidence getting established regarding the fact that Chlamydia can also lead to an increased risk of HIV among women.


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