About this brochure
HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and Sexually Transmitted Infections provides information on the diseases and their causes, prevalence, routes of transmission and forms of protection, symptoms, progression, and effects as well as diagnosis and treatment. We have designed this brochure to contribute to prevention – being well aware that much more needs to be done, specifically creating conditions that promote preventive behaviours, testing, and treatment as well as non-discriminatory interaction.
HIV and Aids
According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), more than 90,000 people in Germany were living with HIV at the end of 2021, with about 9,000 being unaware of their infection. Some 1,800 people became infected with HIV in 2021. Roughly 2,400 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2021; about one in three of these HIV diagnoses were made at a stage where the immune system had already been severely damaged, and one in six even when AIDS symptoms were already present. However, with a timely diagnosis, and early treatment, HIV is manageable, and AIDS can be prevented today. But outdated ideas of illness, and early death remain widespread, and people with HIV are still being marginalised, and discriminated against. This leads to illness, and also stops people from getting tested. This brochure provides factual information to address a lack of knowledge and misconceptions, fears, and prejudices. The most important messages: HIV medications enable people living with HIV to live a long and healthy life, and with effective HIV therapy, HIV can no longer be sexually transmitted – making it possible to have sex and have children without fear of transmitting HIV. HIV-negative people can also take HIV medications to protect themselves from HIV infection.
Hepatitis A, B and C
Several key populations for HIV prevention in Germany – mainly men who have sex with men, migrants from countries with high HIV prevalence, people who inject drugs and prison inmates – are also particularly affected by the viral liver infections hepatitis A, B, and C. Hepatitis B and C share routes of transmission with HIV, namely sexual transmission (hepatitis B, less commonly also hepatitis C) and blood-to-blood contact. There are also interactions between hepatitis B/C and HIV infection (hepatitis B is more likely to become chronic in untreated people with HIV and a low T helper cell count) as well as between some HIV and hepatitis medications.
Sexually transmitted infections
Widespread but mostly easily treatable sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, genital warts/HPV, gonorrhoea, herpes, and syphilis are also more common among some of the groups particularly affected by HIV. They can not only be harmful to health, but can also increase the risk of HIV transmission during sex with untreated people with HIV through inflammation, ulcers, and small mucosal lesions. At the same time, it is important to know that condoms and internal condoms (“femidoms”) not only provide protection from HIV, but also reduce the risk of other sexually transmitted infections. Getting tested and seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections is just as important as it is for HIV.
Information on the terminology used
People use different body regions and genitals for various sexual practices. They often also use different terms for these body regions and genitals. The risk of HIV and other pathogens as well as the effectiveness of protective measures depend on the mucous membranes involved during sex. Studies, guidelines, and recommendations usually refer to them as the mucous membranes of the vagina, rectum, and penis. We also use these terms in this brochure – while being aware that not all people use these terms for themselves. For example, some trans* people reject the terms “vagina”, “clitoris” or “penis” for themselves and choose to use other terms.