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Likely HIV transmission from female-to-female sex reported

Wednesday, 19 March, 2014

A possible case of HIV transmission as a result of sex between women has been reported in the United States. The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) stated that a woman had tested positive for HIV, and had most likely been transmitted the virus from her ex-partner through female-to-female sex. The HIV in the newly infected woman is identical to that of her ex-partner, and no other risky behaviours relating to HIV transmission have been reported.

HIV transmission between women who have sex with women (WSW) has not been widely reported and is very difficult to confirm. Historically, where there is a possible chance of HIV transmission as a result of female sex, there have been other confounding factors such as injecting drug use or heterosexual sex, making the route of HIV transmission difficult to conclusively confirm. HIV is found in blood and other body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids, and to become infected, this fluid needs to get into the body in some way. For WSW, the greatest risk is via the sharing of sex toys, rough sex or oral sex.

The women in question had a six-month monogamous relationship where they reported routinely having unprotected oral and vaginal sex, including with the use of sex toys. Other risky behaviours including having sex whilst mensurating, and rough sex to the point of bleeding were also reported. Other likely HIV transmission routes have not been reported by the newly infected partner, including injecting drug use, tattoos, acupuncture and heterosexual sex in the past ten years.

The report states that regardless of the types of sex, “All persons at risk for HIV, including all discordant couples, should receive information regarding the prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections to prevent the HIV-negative partner from acquiring the infection.”