STD Information: HIV/AIDS

AIDS is caused by the HIV virus. It is spread through direct contact with blood, semen,  vaginal fluids, or breast milk, usually during sex, birth, or sharing needles. The HIV virus slowly attacks white blood cells which constitute a major part of the body's immune system. White blood cells fight infections. When the immune system is weak, harmful germs & infections take over, and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) becomes evident.

  • Transmission WTW: while there is little research or documentation on this topic, the medical literature does have case reports of WTW sexual transmission of HIV. The most likely sources for transmission are menstrual blood, vaginal discharge when there is vaginitis (there are more white blood cells containing HIV present then), and traumatic sex practices.  However, more research is urgently needed in this area; none of these mechanisms, or their relative risk, have been directly studied yet.
  • Prevention: Please see Safer Sex Practices section.
  • Treatment: There are numerous drug therapies to help the immune system and fight the HIV virus, though at this time there is no cure. Treatments are constantly changing so for the most up to date information we suggest visiting the San Francisco AIDS Foundation web site and The Body web site.

Please note that for the purpose of our web site we are focusing primarily on woman to woman transmission (WTW) and only providing a general overview of the infections themselves. You may want to check out our Bibliography and Links sections for more in depth information or contact us with specific questions through STD Q&A's.