STDs And HIV Frequently Asked Questions

Are STDs associated with HIV?

You are more likely to contract HIV or transmit the disease to other sexual partners if you have an STD.

People in the U.S. who have syphilis, herpes, or gonorrhea often also have HIV or are at a higher risk of getting HIV.

Why does having STDs put you at higher risk for contracting HIV?

Having an STD puts you at a higher risk of getting HIV because the same circumstances and behaviors that may put you at risk for STDs also can put you at greater risk of getting HIV. Additionally, when STDs result in breaks in the skin or sores, HIV may enter your body more easily. For these two reasons, it is more likely that you will get HIV if you have an STD.

It is highly recommended to get tested regularly for both HIV and STDs if you are sexually active. Even if you aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms of an STD/HIV or if you are having sex with only one partner, get tested.

Which activities can increase the risk of getting both STDs and HIV?

  • Not using a condom while having oral, vaginal, or anal sex.
  • Having more than one sex partner.
  • Having sex with anonymous people.
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to lower inhibitions, which can lead to taking greater sexual risks.

How Can I Avoid getting an STD or HIV?

There is only one way to be 100% sure that you can’t get HIV or an STD, and that is to abstain from all sexual activity, which means no oral, vaginal or anal sex. However, there are some steps that you can take to lower your chances of contracting these diseases if you choose to be sexually active:

  • Choose sexual activities that are less risky.
  • Wear a new condom or insist that your partner wears a new condom for each oral, vaginal, or anal sexual act throughout the entire act.
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners.
  • Don’t drink or use drugs that affect your decision-making behavior regarding sex.
  • Talk openly and honestly with a healthcare provider and get tested for HIV and STDs regularly.
  • Ask your healthcare provider whether pre (PrEP) or post-exposure (PEP) prophylaxis may be a good option for you.

If I already have HIV and get an STD, does this increase the risk of transmitting HIV to my sexual partner(s)?

Getting infected with an STD can increase the risk of transmitting HIV to your sex partner(s). You can lower the risk by taking the following steps:

  • Get treated for your HIV with antiretroviral therapy (ART) and make sure that you stay on the medication. Taking HIV medication can reduce the viral load or the amount of the virus that is present in your bloodstream. In fact, ART’s can reduce a viral load to such an extent that it becomes undetectable in HIV tests. If you have an undetectable viral load, it is much less likely that you will transmit HIV to your sexual partners. However, it is important to note that an undetectable viral load does not mean that you are cured.
  • Engage in less risky sexual activities.
  • Always use a new condom for each oral, vaginal, or anal sex act and wear the condom throughout the act from the beginning to the end. 
  • Your sexual partner may want to consider taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and discuss this with a qualified healthcare provider to determine if this is a suitable option. PrEP is highly effective at reducing the risk of contracting HIV when taken daily. Inconsistently taking the prophylactic treatment lowers the efficacy. Be aware that PrEP is not intended to prevent the transmission of other STDs and, therefore, still use condoms.

Will STD treatment stop me from getting HIV?

The answer is No. Treatment for STDs is primarily to help prevent complications and the transmission of the disease to other sexual partners. Treatment for an STD is different from the treatment for HIV and therefore, will not prevent spreading HIV. STD treatment is not sufficient to prevent HIV. If you have been diagnosed with an STD, talk to your healthcare provider or doctor about how to prevent getting reinfected with the same STD, or getting HIV.

Where can I get more information regarding STDs and HIV?


PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC-INFO Contact Center



CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)

American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)

P. O. Box 13827

Research Triangle Park, NC



Content source: Division of STD PreventionNational Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB PreventionCenters for Disease Control and Prevention