• Risk Factors for AIDS

    Certain lifestyle factors greatly increase your risk of contracting HIV infection and developing AIDS. By avoiding behaviors that are associated with increasing your risk, you can greatly reduce your risk.
    Risk factors include:

    Having Unprotected Sex

    Most people become infected with HIV through sexual activity. You can contract AIDS by not using a condom when having sexual relations with a person infected with HIV. Not using condoms properly can also put you at increased risk for acquiring HIV infection. During sex, the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, and mouth can provide entry points for the virus.
    Other risky behaviors include having:
    • Sex with someone without knowing his or her HIV status
    • More than one sex partner
    • Sex with someone who has more than one sexual partner
    • Anal intercourse
    Men who have sex with other men may be at a higher risk of being infected with HIV. Having unprotected sex and using drugs (eg, methamphetamines) during sex can increase this risk. Women who engage in risky behaviors and have both male and female partners may also be at a greater risk.

    Injecting Drugs

    If you inject illegal drugs, this increases your risk of becoming infected with HIV. Using a needle or syringe that contains even a small amount of infected blood can transmit HIV infection.

    Having Certain Medical Conditions

    Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and vaginal infections caused by bacteria tend to increase the risk of HIV transmission during sex with an HIV-infected partner. Examples of STDs include:
    For men, not being circumcised can also increase the risk of getting HIV infection.

    Having Certain Medical Procedures

    Having a blood transfusion or receiving blood products before 1985 increases your risk of HIV infection and AIDS. Before blood banks began testing donated blood for HIV in 1985, there was no way of knowing if the blood was contaminated with HIV, and recipients could become infected through transfusions.
    Receiving blood products, tissue or organ transplantation, or artificial insemination increases your risk of HIV infection and AIDS. Even though blood products are now screened for HIV, there is still some degree of risk because tests cannot detect HIV immediately after transmission.

    Being a Healthcare Worker

    Exposure to contaminated blood and needles puts healthcare workers at risk for HIV.

    References

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

    Conn HF, Rakel RE. Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2001.

    HIV/AIDS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/ . Updated September 2008. Accessed September 25, 2008.

    HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/ . Accessed September 25, 2008.

    Noble J, Greene HL. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine . 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc; 2000.

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