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What are the risk factors for contracting HIV/AIDS in women?

Here are some factors that put women at risk for HIV.

  • Heterosexual sex puts women at risk for HIV. It is important to know a male partner's HIV status and insist upon condom use during sexual encounters.
  • Unprotected vaginal sex puts women at risk for HIV, and unprotected anal sex places women at an even greater risk for HIV transmission.
  • Women who have experienced sexual abuse may use drugs as a coping mechanism, find it difficult to refuse unwanted sex, exchange sex for drugs or engage in risky sexual behaviors, all of which increase HIV transmission risk.
  • Sharing equipment contaminated with HIV to inject drugs and other substances increases HIV risk. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can also lead to high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex.
  • Having a sexually transmitted disease greatly increases the chances of HIV. Women of color are at even greater risk due to higher rates of gonorrhea and syphilis compared to white women.
  • Social determinants of health like poverty or limited access to high-quality health care; the exchange of sex for drugs, money or to meet other needs; and higher levels of substance use can increase HIV risk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.