Women Can Give HIV To One Another During Sex, It Turns Out, And The CDC Has Reported The First-Ever Case

Cases of HIV transmission between men and women are common (sadly,) but very rarely are there instances of infection between two women. This week saw the first-ever confirmed case: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an HIV-positive woman likely transmitted the virus to another woman during sex. Such cases are infrequently reported and difficult to confirm, according to the CDC, but the latest instance with a Houston woman and her partner is strong evidence that spreading HIV between women is possible.

The couple had been in a monogamous relationship for six months. At the beginning, one was HIV-positive while the other was negative. The woman who was initially HIV-negative said it'd been 10 years since she'd had sex with a man, and that she'd had three other female sexual partners in the five years before being infected. The CDC report ruled out transplants, acupuncture, tattoos, blood transfusions or other risky behavior which could have exposed her to HIV.

Though the second women sold her blood plasma, she tested negative for HIV in March 2012. Later that year, she visited the emergency room with symptoms including sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, but again tested negative for HIV. Two weeks later, when she went to donate plasma, the test was positive.

When researchers compared the DNA sequences of the women's two viruses, they were nearly identical, leading experts to link sex as the likely cause of infection.

Though rare, the CDC now states HIV transmission between two women can occur, and urges couples and individuals to get tested and educate themselves on protection and prevention methods.