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HIV Risk Factors

An early common misconception about HIV was that it only infected homosexual men.  However, anyone can contract the virus, regardless of age, race, sex, or sexual orientation. 

Risk factors for HIV/AIDS include:

Unprotected Sex

Because HIV is spread through bodily fluids, the use of a condom (especially latex or polyurethane) greatly reduces the risk of transmission.  Anal sex is more hazardous than vaginal sex. 

Multiple Sexual Partners

Although being monogamous does not guarantee against exposure to the disease, it greatly reduces the risk.  If you are sure that both you and your partner are monogamous and not infected by HIV, there is no way for transmission to occur unless another partner is introduced and that person has HIV.

Suffering from Another STD

Many sexually transmitted diseases, like chlamydia or gonorrhea, cause open sores on the genitals, allowing strains of HIV to enter the body more easily.

Use of Intravenous Drugs

Sharing needles and syringes is common amongst intravenous drug users.  Exposure to infected blood greatly increases a person’s risk for acquiring HIV.

Being Uncircumcised

Men who are uncircumcised experience greater risk for heterosexual transmission of HIV than those who have been circumcised.


Content licensed from:

Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed : Jennifer Monti, MD, MPH

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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