AN extremely rare case of HIV infection between two women has been reported in the USA.
During 2012, the woman engaged in a six-month long relationship with another woman infected with HIV who had ceased to take antiretroviral drugs two years earlier.
The CDC said pinpointing female-to-female HIV transmission was difficult due to other risk factors, such as sharing needles or heterosexual sex, being present in most cases.
However, in this case, these other risk factors were not reported. For instance, the relationship between the women was monogamous and the newly infected woman had not had heterosexual sex for over a decade.
In addition, said the CDC, there were other links that suggested the 43-year-old positive woman had passed the virus to her negative partner: “Laboratory testing confirmed that the woman with newly diagnosed HIV infection had a virus virtually identical to that of her female partner.”
The woman, who regularly donated blood to supplement her income, admitted herself to hospital in April 2012 complaining of symptoms including a sore throat, fever, vomiting and frequent diarrhoea. At the time, an HIV test taken by the hospital came back negative. However, a little over two weeks later the woman again went to donate blood and on this occasion a test revealed she was HIV positive.
HIV infection between women can occur due to exposure to vaginal or other body fluids, to blood from menstruation or to exposure to blood from trauma during rough sex.
The CDC reported that the couple had described their sexual contact as: “at times rough to the point of inducing bleeding,” while intercourse had also occurred during either woman’s menstrual cycle.
It was vitally important HIV-discordant couples, of all genders, received counselling regarding safer sex practices, said the CDC.