HIV/AIDS and STIs


HIV, Human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks the human immune system and is spread through contact with bodily fluids, including blood and semen. It is most commonly spread through sex or sharing equipment used to inject intravenous drugs. If left untreated, HIV infection can result in AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Although not exclusively spread through sex, HIV is considered a sexually-transmitted infection (STI). Other pathogens linked to the greatest incidence of STIs worldwide include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human papillomavirus (HPV).


HIV/AIDS and STIs have a significant impact on both sexual and reproductive health, including infertility, poor birth outcomes, cancers, and stigmatization. A major global health issue, 39 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and each day 1 million people are infected with an STI. Approximately 374 million people are diagnosed with a curable STI each year, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. 


In the United States, HIV/AIDs first emerged among marginalized communities, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), users of intravenous drugs, and sex workers. Government systems were slow to respond and misinformation was spread regarding the transmission of HIV. As a result, marginalized communities faced significant discrimination and stigma from the public, and thousands of lives were lost. At present, gay and bisexual men, particularly Black, Latino, and Native American men, are still at greatest risk of contracting HIV and other STIs. Black women, transgender women, and those who inject drugs are also disproportionately impacted by HIV and STIs. 


Unprotected sex, multiple sexual partners, and the use of injected drugs are factors that contribute to the transmission of HIV/AIDs and STIs. Additionally, existing or prior STI infection increases the risk of contracting HIV. Although prevention, care, and treatment for HIV has advanced, stigma and discrimination remain significant barriers to accessing care. Lack of education, unemployment, incarceration, and poverty contribute to a lack of STI testing, treatment, and prevention among marginalized communities. 


Reducing the burden of HIV and STIs, as well as the stigma and discrimination associated with these diseases, benefits human health and quality of life. Making HIV/STI testing simple, accessible, and routine, increasing access to same-day treatment, and providing behavioral interventions to maintain engagement in care can lessen the burden of HIV and other STIs at scale. At the local level, communities can invest in prevention strategies, such as safe needle exchanges, condom distribution programs, mobile testing sites, and linkages to local social services. Communities can also prioritize education and awareness on the transmission of HIV and STIs to reduce stigma and empower individuals to seek care.

Resources & Tools


young couple in shadow profile Photo by Jake Dela Concepcion on Unsplash
Bright Spot: Reducing the Risk
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Syringe Exchange Starts a Conversation
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by IHRC
Screen capture of CDC’s HIV Prevention Priorities webpage
CDC’s HIV Prevention Priorities
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by CDC
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Bright Spot: CLEAR: Choosing Life: Empowerment! Action! Results!
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
Screen capture of Standing Up to HIV Stigma website
Standing Up to HIV Stigma
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
woman with hands in lap Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Bright Spot: HIV Counseling, Testing and Referral (CTR)
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
Website of d-up: Defend Yourself!
HIV: d-up: Defend Yourself!
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by CDC
Screen shot of article photo: Urban Indian HIV and AIDS
Urban Indian HIV and AIDS
Resource - Website/webpage
PDF Cover Page: Financial Instability and Delays in Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Due to Covid-19
Financial Instability and Delays in Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Due to COVID-19
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Website of HIV Effective Interventions
HIV: Effective Interventions
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by CDC
woman sitting on white bedding Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash
Bright Spot: Voices/Voces
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
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Bright Spot: Making Proud Choices
Resource - Model Policy
Brought to you by 100MHL
Screen capture of Words Matter: Using Humanizing Language webpage
Words Matter: Using Humanizing Language
Resource
Brought to you by The Fortune Society
Screen capture of Stigma Against Gay People Can Be Deadly
Stigma Against Gay People Can Be Deadly
Story - Written
Brought to you by NYT

 Related Topics


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Infectious Diseases