HIV Spread by Heterosexual Contact Shockingly High

Heterosexual contact is less risky per sex act than male homosexual contact, but in some places heterosexual sex is the most common means of HIV transmission. This has been true in some African countries — where prevalence of HIV can be well above 10% — for decades. But shockingly high rates of heterosexual spread of HIV are also being seen in India and Russia.

Some experts predict that heterosexual sex may soon overtake injecting drug use as the main means of HIV transmission.10 This means the HIV epidemic has the potential to shift from mainly affecting key populations to affecting the general population. If this happens, HIV prevalence could increase at a significantly faster rate.1 __ avert

The HIV epidemic in Russia appears to be slowly spreading into the populace at large, including more persons considered economically active — and increasing numbers age 50 and older. The problem is not considered a serious matter by the Russian Health Ministry.

Roughly 100,000 more Russians become infected with HIV every year, most through intravenous drug use but more and more of them apparently through heterosexual contact.

More than 1.2 million people live with HIV in Russia, a figure experts say is likely underreported and that the World Health Organization warns is at risk of spinning out of control. The crisis has led to the deaths of some 318,000 Russians since the first HIV case was registered three decades ago, with almost 37,000 of these deaths happening last year. __

The HIV epidemic in Russia has a similar shape to those epidemics seen in sub Saharan Africa or in India. This is undoubtedly due to substandard health care that is offered to average citizens who cannot afford the expensive bribes that are required for high quality medical care in Russia today.

Travelers to Russia should be advised that HIV is “in the air” and to take extraordinary precautions when wandering off the reservation.

City-based data from 2012 suggests HIV prevalence among sex-workers is between 3.8% and 11.6%, depending on location. In 2015, it was estimated that around 15% of indoors sex workers and more than 60% of outdoor sex workers in St. Petersburg were living with HIV.31 Although it is not illegal to buy sex it is illegal to sell it and to organise commercial sex in any place. This criminalisation puts sex workers in a vulnerable position and they are often subject to violence, abuse, harassment and exploitation at the hands of clients, police officers, health workers and others in authority.32

In a study of almost 900 female sex workers conducted in St. Petersburg and Orenburg, rape during sex work was reported by 64% of respondents. Those who had experienced rape were more likely to inject drugs and binge on alcohol, both of which increases vulnerability to HIV. 33 __ avert

As they say, be careful out there. Life has not been kind to millions of unwanted children who have been cycled through cruel orphanages and then onto even crueler streets.

The third world is not always where you expect it. But the tragedy unfolds in much the same way regardless. It is best to be aware of what is happening, even though all too often it is impossible to make a difference for the better. Best, at least, not to make things worse.

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8 Responses to HIV Spread by Heterosexual Contact Shockingly High

  1. Bryce says:

    It’s not easily spread by heterosexual contact. There is a lot of “down low” homosexual behavior in Africa and sharing of needles. Prostitutes often inject IV drugs to numb their consciences which spreads the disease.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Yes, the scientific article linked at the beginning of the posting reveals the low rate of infection per sex act for heterosexual sex. The rate of infection is low but well above zero. With high enough prevalence rates among heterosexual persons the rate of spread by heterosexual means can be significant — especially where genital sores are present or anal sex is practised. How does the prevalence rate rise high enough among heterosexuals for that? In cities of Russia usually intravenous drug use among prostitutes and male heterosexual drug users.

      Too many conservatives are in denial about the potential for heterosexual HIV spread in places with high prevalence rates — not necessarily country rates but city or even neighborhood rates.

    • And, it is difficult to transfer from female to male.

      • alfin2101 says:

        For now that is the case, unless genital sores of some kind are present. As HIV evolves, we cannot be sure how the infectivity may change. Best to be cautious, next time in St. Petersburg.

        • info says:


          Avoiding those who used drugs or who had sexual contact with bisexuals is one of the precautions that would have to be taken

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