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STDs: Making the Connection

The interconnectedness of HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), viral hepatitis, and tuberculosis (TB) 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 viral hepatitis and all major STDs, including HIV infection.


Having an STD does not necessarily mean that the infected person also has HIV infection. However, continuing the risky behavior that led to STD infection may increase the likelihood of eventually becoming infected with HIV.

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:

1 CDC. The Role of STD Prevention and Treatment in HIV Prevention, Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010. [cited 2013 April 4]. Available from:

Page Last Updated: December 18, 2013

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