TEXAS – A woman has given HIV to her lesbian lover in an extremely rare case of female-to-female HIV transmission, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The 46-year-old Texan woman ‘likely acquired’ the virus from her HIV-positive female partner.
Such reports are incredibly rare, but the women were noted to have engaged in several risky behaviors and the diagnosed woman had stopped taking her medication in 2010.
The 46-year-old unnamed woman tested positive and indicated she had had sex with only her female partner in the six months prior to her diagnosis.
She also said she had not engaged in sex with a man for 10 years.
The woman reported no HIV risk factors – besides sex with her 43-year-old partner – such as getting tattooed, having multiple unprotected sexual partners or IV drug use.
The report indicated that the newly infected woman’s HIV strain was a 98 percent genetic match with her partner’s.
The study notes no other cases that can be classified as female-to-female HIV transmission with as much certainty, citing that in most other cases ‘other risk factors almost always are present or cannot be ruled out’.
Despite its rarity at the outset, the case’s particulars make it less shocking.
‘They described their sexual contact as at times rough to the point of inducing bleeding in either woman,’ reads the report. ‘They also reported having unprotected sexual contact during the menses of either partner.’
The known positive partner was prescribed antiretrovirals in 2008 and reported that she stopped taking them in 2010 and was ‘lost to follow up in January 2011,’ AFP reports.
When a patient is taking antiretroviral drugs the viral load in their blood is so low that it is very unlikely they will pass on the virus.
However, if they stop taking the medication, the viral load will increase again and they are more likely to pass on the virus.
Paul Ward, Acting Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘Sex between two women carries an extremely low risk of HIV transmission.
‘However, in any sexual pairing, the risk of transmission increases when one of the couple has HIV but is not on treatment.
‘In this case, when the HIV-positive partner stopped taking anti-HIV drugs in 2010, it is likely the amount of virus in her blood increased dramatically.
‘Modern drug treatments don’t just keep people with HIV fit and well; they can also greatly reduce the risk of infection.’
Sources: Daily Mail UK, AP, TIME