Although the risk of sexual transmission of HIV between women who have sex with women is low, the potential for transmission exists because HIV can be transmitted when certain bodily fluids (such as menstrual blood, vaginal fluids, etc.) come into contact with a mucus membrane or a cut or abrasion, according to a CDC report.
Published in the March 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the report documents a case with unique circumstances pointing to likely sexual transmission between female partners. In this case, the discordant couple (one HIV-infected partner and one uninfected partner) routinely had direct sexual contact without using barrier methods for protection that involved the exchange of blood through abrasions received during sexual activity.
Because all other HIV risk exposures were ruled out for the newly infected partner, she likely was infected by her female partner. The authors noted that, although HIV transmission between women is possible, it remains rare.
The report underscores the need for all couples including women who have sex with women to take steps to prevent transmission, including avoiding all contact between HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated bodily fluids and broken skin, wounds or mucus membranes.
All persons at risk for HIV, including all discordant couples, should receive information regarding the prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections to prevent the HIV-negative partner from acquiring the infection, the authors wrote.
Furthermore, all persons identified as infected with HIV should be linked to and retained in medical care. Control of HIV infection with suppression of viral load can result in better health outcomes and a reduced chance of transmitting HIV to partners.