AIDS awerness day

The conversation among medical providers, community leaders, and individuals regarding human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) often centers on men, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM), who face the highest risk of HIV infections. The gay community has been significantly impacted by the AIDS epidemic since 1981. However, on March 10th, we observe  National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. It is crucial to address how women from various backgrounds and sexual partners can also be at risk for HIV infections.

At   PrEP2Me, our goal is to educate women about the risks they face regarding HIV and to ensure they are aware of PrEP HIV prevention medication options that can safeguard both women and men. Women need to be equally informed about HIV as anyone else.

Can Women Get HIV Vaginally? The Answer is Yes

The ways people have sex are as varied as people themselves. Sex can involve a range of body parts and actions, but the conversation surrounding HIV often revolves around sex between cisgender men, most commonly anal sex. What can be lost in those conversations is that the vagina  is also highly susceptible to HIV infection(opens in a new tab) during an encounter with an HIV-positive partner, especially under a certain set of circumstances.

Vaginal tissue creates a wide surface area, is soft and prone to tear, and often holds semen for an extended period of time, creating more opportunities for bodily fluid exchange. People with vaginas are also at a higher risk for HIV infection if their tissues have been compromised by yeast infections, human papillomavirus (HPV), or other genital infections. 

If you’re a woman with a vagina whose partner or partners are HIV-positive, or you’re having sex with multiple people whose status is unclear, you should be on Truvada PrEP for women, which is FDA-approved to protect those who have vaginal sex from HIV infection.

When it comes to sexual activities, the diversity is as vast as the individuals themselves. While conversations about HIV often center on cisgender men and anal sex, it's crucial to acknowledge that vaginal intercourse also poses a significant risk of HIV transmission. The vagina provides a large, delicate surface area that is susceptible to tearing, retains semen for extended periods, and increases the chances of fluid exchange. Individuals with vaginas face a higher HIV risk if their tissues are compromised by conditions like yeast infections or HPV.

 For women engaging in sex with HIV-positive partners or multiple individuals of unknown status, considering antiretroviral therapy like Truvada PrEP can provide protection from HIV infection during vaginal intercourse. This therapy helps in managing the viral load, supporting the body's immune system, and addressing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome risks.

Sexually-Active Trans Women Need HIV Prevention

Whether you identify as a transgender woman with a history of bottom surgery or not, being a transgender woman puts you at a higher risk for HIV infection compared to cisgender women. Our previous blog highlighted the importance of PrEP for trans women, considering factors like increased engagement in sex work and a higher chance of intimate relationships with HIV-positive partners in the LGBTQ community. 

PrEP is a vital shield against HIV during all types of sexual activities. If you are sexually active and not taking it daily, now is the opportune time to begin. In addition, it's crucial to address opportunistic infections, swollen lymph nodes, and sexually transmitted infections in this context.

There Are Ways You Can Get HIV Besides Sex

If you’re a woman who uses intravenous drugs, you belong to a group at high risk of HIV transmission. Although HIV is commonly linked to sexual transmission, it can spread through contact with an infected person's bodily fluids. This includes using a needle contaminated with blood, putting you at risk of infection. 

The CDC notes a high rate of needle-sharing among young adults, with 48% of participants aged 18-24 reporting needle-sharing in a 2018 study. Always use a clean syringe. If you inject drugs regularly without access to fresh needles, consider a daily PrEP regimen to prevent this mode of transmission.

Moreover, you can transmit HIV from a mother to a baby during pregnancy or breastfeeding. This form of transmission, known as perinatal or 'mother-to-child' transmission, underscores the importance of early testing and treatment. PrEP is not advised during pregnancy, but for individuals planning pregnancy, vigilance in avoiding HIV exposure is crucial. If you are pregnant and worried about HIV exposure, seek immediate testing for prompt treatment. Additionally, individuals with an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to sexual partners.

Whether you’re a woman who is active in sex work, seeing someone who is HIV positive, using intravenous drugs, or whatever your circumstances are, PrEP can grant you the peace of mind you deserve to have sex and live life without worrying about HIV infection. PrEP2Me makes it easy for people of all genders to receive your PrEP online, and our discreet packaging can be shipped anywhere in the country. We’ll send you an at-home STI test; then you’ll be contacted virtually by a real HIV specialist to discuss your treatment plan.

Get started today with PrEP2Me, where we make it easy and accessible to stay protected!