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Increased risk of
HIV infection for women with common STD

Increased risk of
HIV infection for women with common STD

A new study in the March 1 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases reports that women who have the common sexually transmitted disease trichomoniasis have a significantly increased risk of HIV infection, reports

Past studies have demonstrated a link between STDs and susceptibility to HIV infection, but this new study is the first to show a statistically significant relationship between trichomoniasis and HIV infection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, trichomoniasis is the most common curable STD in sexually active young women. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite and infects an estimated 7.4 million women and men in the U.S. and more than 170 million people worldwide each year. The disease itself can be cured with the prescription drug metronidazole and does not usually cause serious complications.

The study, conducted by R. Scott McClelland and others, tracked 1,335 HIV-seronegative women over 11 years. They found a 1.5-fold increased risk of HIV infection in women who had trichomoniasis. McClelland explains in the study that "a woman with trichomoniasis is at about 50% greater risk for acquiring HIV than a woman without trichomoniasis, after adjusting for other differences between the women such as differences in the rates of condom use and the number of sex partners."

The study posits that trichomoniasis can cause the mucous membranes to have tiny areas of bleeding that provide a pathway for increased HIV infection. Also the parasite can break down an enzyme that blocks the attachment of HIV to cells.

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