HIV and Heterosexual intercourse

Originally Published: December 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 15, 1998
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Dear Alice

How does a man get infected with HIV through heterosexual vaginal intercourse?

Just wanna know

Dear Just wanna know,

Men can become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when they have unprotected sexual intercourse with a woman carrying the virus, most probably via exposure to vaginal/cervical secretions or menstrual blood in the vagina. During heterosexual intercourse, the man's urethral lining may be exposed to infected fluid that enters through the urethra (the opening and tube in the penis through which urine and semen flow). Another way that a man may become infected is through an open sore, cut, or minor abrasion on the penis that would facilitate viral transmission.

If you have any further questions, you can call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National STD and AIDS Hotline at 1.800.342.AIDS (-2437), log onto the CDC National Prevention Information Network web site, or check out Laura Pinsky and Paul Harding Douglas's book, The Essential AIDS Fact Book.