Why HIV Transmission Risk Higher in Women than Men?

HIV Transmission Risk Higher in Women than Men

After decades of grueling research, it is no myth to say, sex with HIV infected person without proper protection leads to transmission of HIV to the partner as well. This piece of writing aims to answer how women are infected by HIV?

As HIV enters woman’s body, it latches on cells with CD4 receptors. The genital tract and anal region are abundant with Cells that has CD4 receptors in the surface layer. The bloodstream picks the virus and spreads across the body. In the cases of dry, rough and forced sex with an HIV-infected person, there is a greater probability of HIV transmission to the unprotected partner as the lining the genital tracts usually rupture due to friction.

Women are exposed to semen for a longer time as women’s vagina acts as a repository. The probability of women becoming infected with HIV is more than men during unprotected sex. In terms of exposure time, Men’s contact with the body fluids of a woman is limited. Importantly, the concentration of HIV in semen is much higher than the concentration of HIV in vaginal fluids.

The female reproductive system possesses a larger surface area of mucosa and this is exposed to their partner’s secretions. Also, larger women population’s reproductive systems are characterized by erosion, open sores, and infections and this largely facilitates the transmission of HIV.

During the period of menstruation (before or after) the risk of HIV transmission is higher due to the exposure of uterine lining. In younger women, the genital tracts are not fully mature and this results in lacerations or tears of the vaginal lining. The risk of becoming infected with HIV after one act of unprotected anal sex is approximately 20 times higher than vaginal sex.

It is important to understand in many parts of the world women have little control over their sex lives as their rights are undermined. Often, this is the reason women from lower income countries are at high risk of HIV Infection when their partners are infected.

Summary Findings of various research studies conducted across the world

Hiv Positive Risk

If a woman has unprotected vaginal sex 100 times with a man who is HIV-positive, the total risk is approximately 10% and also biological factors add on to the risk. The exposure time plays a key role in HIV infection in both men and women. Anal sex certainly carries more risk of HIV infection in women than vaginal sex, nearly 20% higher. Women are also at a higher risk than men in all forms of sex; the risk of infection is 3:23 for men and women during a sexual intercourse with an infected partner. In Vaginal sex with an HIV-infected partner, the risk for a woman is twice than a man.

Risk of HIV transmission from different types of unprotected sex:

Types Number of individual studies Range of estimates Meta­analysis estimate
Receptive anal 4 0.4%-3.38% 1.40%
Insertive anal 2 0.06%-0.62%
Receptive vaginal 10 0.018%-0.150% 0.08%
Insertive vaginal 3 0.03%-0.09% 0.04%

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  • http://www.health24.com/Medical/HIV-AIDS/Transmission-of-HIV/Transmission-through-sexual-acts-20120721
  • http://www.catie.ca/en/pif/summer-2012/putting-number-it-risk-exposure-hiv

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Contributor : Maggie Martin (Consumer Health Digest)

Maggie Martin is completing her PhD in Cell Biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow on Twitter @MaggieBiosource

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