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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Sexually Transmitted Bacterial Infections (by ASCLS). Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Connection Between HIV and STIs

  • If a person has an STI, he or she is 2-5 times more likely to contract HIV
  • If a person has an STI and HIV, he or she is more likely to infect a sexual partner with HIV
  • Genital ulcers from syphilis, chancroid or herpes result in breaks in the mucosa of the genital tract or skin and a way for the HIV virus to enter
  • If a patient has an inflammatory STI like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomonas, he or she has increased cells in the genitalia that the HIV virus can infect such as CD4+ lymphocytes
  • STIs can increase the risk of an HIV-infected person transmitting the virus to his or her sex partners because they shed more HIV in genital secretions
    • Concentration of HIV in semen is 10 times higher in men with gonorrhea and HIV than those who only have HIV, for example
    • Treating STIs in HIV-infected persons decreases the amount of HIV in their genital secretions
  • Patients being tested or treated for STIs should also be tested for HIV