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CDC Reports Rare ‘Lesbian’ HIV Transmission Case

Update Date: Mar 14, 2014 09:32 AM EDT
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The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a rare case of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmitting between two women during sexual contact.

Female-to-female transmission via sexual contact "has been reported rarely and is difficult to ascertain," the health officials reported according to CNN.

According to the tests, the newly infected 46-year-old woman carries "a virus virtually identical to that of her female partner." The viruses had a genetic match of about 98 percent. The woman's 43-year-old partner was diagnosed with HIV in 2008 but had stopped taking antiretroviral treatment back in 2010.

"In this case, other risk factors for HIV transmission were not reported by the newly infected woman, and the viruses infecting the two women were virtually identical," the CDC officials reported.

In the report, the newly diagnosed woman did not have any other risk factors for HIV, such as injection drug use, blood transfusions, transplants, or tattooing. She earned extra income by donating plasma, which required her to be tested for any infections. In March 2012, she tested negative for the virus. Roughly 10 days after her plasma donation, the woman fell ill and complained of a fever, vomiting, sore throat and a lack of appetite. At this time, she was admitted into the emergency department and tested negative for HIV once again.

18 days later when the woman tried to donate plasma again, she tested positive for HIV. According to the woman, she was in a monogamous relationship with another woman for the past six months prior to her diagnosis. The partners reported using sharp sexual objects roughly "to the point of inducing bleeding in either women," which could explain the transmission of the virus. They also reported having sexual contact during either one's menses. The CDC warns that even though female-to-female transmission via sexual contact is rare, it can occur during any moments of bleeding and therefore, lesbian couples should also take precautions if one partner is HIV-positive.

The CDC first heard of the case from the Houston Department of Health in Texas. The case was reported in the CDC's Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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