Is It True That Men Can’t Get HIV From Women?

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Is It True That Men Can’t Get HIV From Women?

There's an erroneous belief that has contributed to the devastating epidemic among African-Americans, that men can't get HIV from women. They can.

Published July 6, 2012

How does HIV spread? Who’s most susceptible to infection? These are just a couple of questions that, thanks to myths and misconceptions, may be just one of the reasons that new cases of HIV infection are highest in the Black community.


So what are the real facts that you need to know? BDO HIV Expert, Dr. Keith Crawford, weighs in…


Q: I think I actually witnessed the spread of HIV misconceptions! Basically, I overheard some guys at work talking about married male celebrities and their infidelities, and how the wives of these celebrities had nothing to worry about regarding the rumored lack of protection used during these indiscretions, because “it’s next to impossible for a man to pick up the HIV virus from a woman.” Is this true? Is there any data to support that one group of people can more easily spread the virus than another group?


A: Well, I can top that misconception with one even more ridiculous. There are some parts of Africa where it is widely believed that a man infected with HIV can rid himself of the infection by having sex with a virgin! This deplorably ignorant myth has led to widespread rape of young girls, and of course, new infections. Ignorance kills!


Your co-workers are obviously incorrect.  It is true that it is easier for an HIV-infected man to infect a woman than it is for an HIV-infected woman to infect a man.  This is a result of the basic anatomy of sexual intercourse. However, this is a far cry from thinking it is virtually impossible for a man to pick up HIV from a woman.


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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Written by Dr. Keith Crawford, BDO HIV/AIDS Expert


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