Who is most at risk for HIV?

While your conclusion is backed by other evidence, I caution you to watch your sources. Alive And Well is a well-known AIDS denialist group. Or, to quote their front page:

“Many experts”. LOL.

Concerning the “needle prick” scenario:

HIV is not an airborne virus. It’s in the blood borne pathogen family. According to AVI (AIDS Vancouver Island):

Can I get HIV from used needle I found on the ground?

From an accidental poke? Very unlikely. This is because HIV dies in open-air very quickly – within a few moments. So, if there was HIV on the tip of the needle, and it got poked through your skin and into your bloodstream, it’s probably already dead and unable to infect you.

From re-using the needle to inject yourself? Yes! If you were to pick up the needle and use it, then you could be at high risk for HIV. That’s because if there is any HIV inside the barrel of the needle, then it could still be alive because it’s protected from the air. So – never use abandoned needles, or needles that might have been used by someone else before you. Only use new ones that you’ve gotten from a pharmacy or needle exchange.

LOL, the calculations were easier that way. It was either 10 or 100, and I’m an optimist.

Budget Player Cadet, do you have a cite from a more unbiased source? Now, I’m actually arguing with co workers who don’t believe what I just learned. Want some legit ammo.

Right. I am aware of intravenous drug use risks. It was the ‘poked by mistake with a dirty needle’ thing that I had read was negligible as an actual risk.

Like Shodan said…

Point taken, but the report is actually from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Here is a pdf cite if it helps.



This link seems to state that 84% of all new cases of HIV in women are from heterosexual sex.

And it is from the same website cited upthread. Sigh. I’m confused.

edit: WAIT! I think I figured it out. I didn’t comprehend what I was reading at first, but I get it now.

Statistics can be confusing like that. Most of the new cases of HIV in women are from heterosexual sex, because it’s really hard to get HIV from lesbian sex. But knowing that doesn’t really give you any information about how many women are getting HIV through heterosexual sex, just that it’s more of them than get HIV through lesbian sex or sharing needles or tainted blood (no one gets HIV by tainted blood anymore).

IF 100 women get HIV this year, 84 of them will have gotten it from hetereosexual sex, and 16 of them will have gotten it some other way.

IF 1000 women get HIV this year, 840 of them will have gotten it from heterosexual sex, and 160 of them will have gotten it some other way.

For the real numbers, in 2010, roughly 9500 women got HIV, and 8,000 of them were from heterosexual contact, according to the CDC.

Of those same 9500 women who got HIV that year, 6100 of them were African Americans.

But here’s the thing: none of that really matters to you. Statistics like this describe what’s happening to communities, not individuals. There’s no real calculation from these numbers for your *personal *odds of getting HIV and how. An actuary probably could run those numbers, but that’s not the kind of information that’s available from talking about groups. What’s important for you in deciding whether or not you should be tested is your specific risk factor of having unprotected sex with multiple men. That’s why you should be tested.

All the rest of this is useful information for people in health sciences and people who have to decide where to allocate funding for education and health services. It can be useful for educating people who think they can’t get HIV because people like them don’t get HIV. But it’s not nearly as relevant to your personal decision making as knowing that you’ve had unsafe sex with people who may have HIV.

Nzinga, Seated – ask your doctor about the PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) pill.

It’s a single pill that you take once a day that studies have shown reduces your chances of getting HIV by about 99%. Even if you forget to take it half the time, it still reduces your chances by 75-80+%. Side effects seem pretty minor. And it’s covered by your medical coverage, in most cases – especially if you are in one of the higher-risk groups, and it’s prescribed by your doctor.

You might consider goin on that pill.

…Which is also a particularly nasty AIDS denialism site. When I tried tracking it down, I found this PDF.
Which is actually from the Transaction of Society of Actuaries. I don’t think it’s a particularly good source (given that the man is an Actuary, not a medical professional, and very popular in quack circles). I’d just stick mostly to the CDC numbers, to be honest. This may seem a little like hair-splitting, but it’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way - no matter how good or balanced a source may seem, if the best place you can get it from is from a CT/denialist/creationist website, then it shouldn’t be trusted or taken seriously. Which brings me to the real issue here:

Your best bet is pretty much always going to be the government sources - the CDC and NIH in particular. Also, on topics like this with fairly clear answers, Wikipedia is generally pretty reliable - just check the stated sources to make sure they’re on the straight and narrow. If you live in the USA and your friends believe that you are in the highest risk group because you are an African-American female, they are dead wrong. First off, receptive vaginal intercourse has about a 1:1000 risk:infection rate (increased if you suffer from certain other STDs). Compare that to the 1:200 rate for receptive anal sex. So as a woman, the odds are already stacked in your favor. And as for how this pans out, well, CDC has us covered again. A link you showed yourself, and which WhyNot explained quite well.

And of course, the most important factor is not “how does my group behave” but “how do I behave”. If you avoid receptive anal sex, have generally long-term monogamous relationships with partners who have been tested, and use condoms, the risk of infection for you is basically nil. Hell, any one of those things is a huge help. How much your group is at risk is an utterly worthless statistic to you. A far more useful statistic is how at-risk the group you’re going to be having sex with is. :wink: I wouldn’t worry too much. Just keep prudent about it, and you should be good.

@t-bonham: shit, I was ready to write that off as “some new quackery” while I googled it, and then I looked and the first result was the CDC endorsing it. Dayum. That’s some really good news right there. :smiley:

If you aren’t having regular, unprotected sex with an IV drug abuser, you are extremely unlikely to get AIDS. Black heterosexual women are more at risk because black heterosexual women are more likely to be having unprotected sex with IVDAs.

The idea that the average black heterosexual woman is at risk of getting AIDS is simply not borne out by the facts. There were 5300 cases of heterosexual AIDS in the US in 2010. There are roughly 20 million black women in the US. Total number of IV drug users in the US is about 1.3 million. (Cite- pdf.) Do the math.

Which is why taking a AIDS prevention pill seems like ridiculous overkill to me. If you were a gay man, or an IV drug user, or the sex partner of an IV drug user, fine, but otherwise?

While I understand the desire to avoid a false sense of complacency, what tends to be swamped out (as you found) is that AIDS in the US is nearly always a disease of gay men, IV drug abusers, and sex partners of IV drug abusers. It is not typically found anywhere else.

It’s rather difficult to get AIDS. IV drug users get it because they inject infected blood directly into their veins. Men who have sex with men get it because the sigmoid colon is more likely to be traumatized in anal intercourse and the mucosa compromised.

AIDS does not spread like other sexually transmitted diseases in the US because of the difficulty of spreading the virus from females to males. Thus the chain of infection tends to break down rather quickly.


Ok. I am simultaneously learning and teaching at the same damn time. I love threads like this. Thanks for all the good info. I don’t know how persuasive I am being over here, but I give them the links. I figured it out, and they can too.

To be fair, most STDs are harder to transmit from females to males than the reverse. To really get the full picture, you need both rates, plus things like patterns of promiscuity.

Those who work in labs handling blood products take needle sticks rather seriously.

All body fluids are considered infectious & responsible medical & lab people carefully follow correct procedures (as outlined above). If a needle stick happens, there are further steps…

That’s great. Would you say that 0.3% is ridiculously small risk?

Of course, anyone having unprotected sex with strangers is quite likely to end up with one or other of the more common STDs.

And any of those that involve open sores are going to put you at more risk of contracting HIV if you’re unlucky in your choice of partner. Syphilis, in particular, is on the rise and is notorious for causing painless sores that women often don’t notice, especially if they have pubic hair. Those are very inviting entrances for HIV virus to get in.

Well, let’s put it into numbers most of us can understand a little better.

.3% = 1/300 means that for every 300 needle sticks, one will cause the person to contract HIV. Better odds than dying in a fireworks related accident (1 in 1,000,000) but I’m still going to be careful setting off fireworks, y’know?