Hesperian Health Guides

Why HIV Is Different for Different People

In this chapter:

HIV is different for different people because:

  • girls and women are often less able to refuse unwanted or unsafe sex. If they commonly have sex with older men, who have had more sexual partners, then they are more likely to be exposed to HIV.
  • people who are “receivers” during vaginal or anal sex are more likely to be infected with STIs, including HIV. A receiver has someone’s penis in their vagina or anus during sex. This can cause small breaks in the walls of the vagina or anus, where HIV can get into the body. Being a receiver is a common role during sex for women, men who have sex with men, and transgender people.
  • many women and transgender people live with untreated STIs because it is harder to see signs of infection in their bodies. Having other STIs makes it easier for HIV to infect them.
  • poor health from malnutrition and too much childbearing make many people less able to fight disease.
  • many people live where governments do not provide resources to make ART medicines available to everyone who needs them.
  • women are usually the caretakers for sick family members, even if they are sick themselves.

This page was updated:13 Nov 2023