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HIV/AIDS: Making the Connection

The interconnectedness of HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tuberculosis (TB), and viral hepatitis grows increasingly apparent as biomedical and behavioral scientists learn more about people's susceptibility and risks. CDC is applying new research to the elimination of TB and the prevention of all major STDs, including HIV infection, and viral hepatitis.

HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C


HIV infection and other STDs are linked not only by common behaviors, but also by biological mechanisms. Other STDs increase both HIV infectiousness and susceptibility. Individuals who are infected with STDs are more likely than uninfected individuals to acquire HIV if they are exposed to the virus through sexual contact. STDs also appear to increase the risk of an HIV-infected person transmitting the virus to his or her sex partners. (1)

  • Genital ulcers (e.g., syphilis, herpes, or chancroid) result in breaks in the genital tract lining or skin. These breaks create a portal of entry for HIV. (1)
  • Inflammation from non-ulcerative STDs (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis) increase the concentration of cells in genital secretions that can serve as targets for HIV. (1)

These relationships between HIV/AIDS and STDs illustrate why STD prevention is a key HIV prevention strategy. Integrating HIV and STD prevention efforts is vital to the success of both endeavors.

Learn more about the role of STD prevention and treatment in HIV prevention:


HIV weakens the immune system; TB thrives in a weakened immune system. Thus, each disease speeds the other's progress:

  • Someone with untreated latent TB infection and HIV infection is much more likely to develop TB disease during his or her lifetime than someone without HIV infection.(2)
  • Among people with latent TB infection, HIV infection is the strongest known risk factor for progressing to TB disease (2)
  • Worldwide, TB is one of the leading causes of death among people living with HIV(2)

Learn more about the role of HIV prevention and treatment in TB elimination:


Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are bloodborne viruses transmitted primarily through sexual contact and injection drug use. Because of these shared modes of transmission, a high proportion of adults at risk for HIV infection are also at risk for HBV infection. HIV-positive persons who become infected with Hepatitis B virus (HBV) are at increased risk for developing chronic HBV infection and should be tested. In addition, persons who are co-infected with HIV and HBV can have serious medical complications, including an increased risk for liver-related morbidity and mortality. To prevent HBV infection in HIV-infected persons, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends universal Hepatitis B vaccination of susceptible patients with HIV/AIDS.

Hepatitis C

About one quarter of HIV-infected persons in the United States are also infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is a bloodborne virus transmitted through direct contact with the blood of an infected person. Thus, coinfection with HIV and HCV is common (50%–90%) among HIV-infected injection drug users. HCV is one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease in the United States and HCV infection progresses more rapidly to liver damage in HIV-infected persons. HCV infection may also impact the course and management of HIV infection. The U.S. Public Health Service/Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines recommend that all HIV-infected persons be screened for HCV infection.

Learn more about the role of HIV prevention and treatment in HCV prevention:

1 CDC. The Role of STD Detection and Treatment in HIV Prevention. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010. (cited 2014 March 24). Available from

2CDC. TB and HIV Coinfection. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2012. (cited 2014 March 24). Available from

Page Last Updated: March 28, 2014

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