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HIV Symptoms in Women

HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death among the developing and underdeveloped nations. It is a major issue of concern worldwide, as this disease has no cure. Although, men are more likely to contract this disease, the number of female patients is also substantial. African American women in the age group between 25 to 34 are the prime victims of HIV/AIDS. HIV symptoms in women are pretty much similar to those in men, however, women often report some additional symptoms. Let us see what are the symptoms of HIV or AIDS in women.

What are the HIV Symptoms in Women?

Earliest HIV symptoms in women include fever, tiredness, enlarged lymph nodes etc. These symptoms appear within a week of exposure to the HIV virus. The early symptoms of HIV infection are often mistaken for other symptoms of viral infections. After this stage, the viral goes in a dormant phase for 10 years or more. Although, there are no any peculiar symptoms in this phase, the virus continues to remain active inside the body and is capable of causing infection to others when transmitted. The more severe symptoms of HIV/AIDS in women start surfacing after 10 years or more. These symptoms are as follows:

Susceptibility to Infections
HIV/AIDS makes the woman extremely vulnerable to frequent yeast infections. The common symptoms of yeast infections are burning, itching and dryness of the vagina. The yeast infections make urinating or sexual act extremely painful. These yeast infections can be cured temporarily with the help of anti fungal creams, suppositories or certain medications. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is yet another infection that surfaces frequently in HIV infected women. This is a condition where there is an excess growth of bacteria in the vagina. This bacterial infection causes similar symptoms as in yeast infections. However, a discharge in the vagina may be present as well. An antibiotic treatment is sufficient to cure bacterial vaginosis. The treatment should be initiated without delay, if the woman is pregnant.

Susceptibility to Other STDs
HIV virus makes the woman susceptible to other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well. Thus, the woman is likely to contract chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes and the human papilloma virus (HPV). These diseases have their own set of individual symptoms, but generally include symptoms like nausea, fever, lower abdominal pain, lower back pain etc. Pain during intercourse and bleeding between menstrual cycle are some other symptoms of STDs. Interestingly, some STDs may not produce any of the above symptoms.

Susceptibility to Pelvic Diseases
Pelvic inflammatory disease which causes the inflammation of fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries is a major disease that plagues the women suffering from HIV/AIDS. While there are no visible symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease, the disease continues to damage the internal organs.

Variations in Menstrual Cycle
Women who suffer from HIV/AIDS undergo considerable menstrual variations. These may range from spotting between periods, light bleeding to very heavy bleeding. Amenorrhea is the severe type of menstrual problem which involves complete cessation of the periods.

Other HIV Symptoms in Women

Besides the above mentioned symptoms of HIV in women, there can be variety of other symptoms. These symptoms may surface anytime after the exposure to the virus or even several years later. The symptoms are as follows:
  • Lack of energy or severe fatigue
  • Sudden, unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent low-grade fevers and/or night sweats
  • Frequent oral yeast infections
  • Skin rashes or flaky skin that is difficult to heal
  • Short-term amnesia
  • Painful swallowing
  • Coma
HIV/AIDS is diagnosed by undertaking certain antibody tests. Presence of antibodies to HIV indicates a positive infection. Tests can be done if there is a known exposure to the virus or if any of the above mentioned symptoms surface. HIV symptoms in women can be difficult to interpret as they often coincide with those of other diseases. Thus, proper diagnostic measures are required to affirm the possibility of HIV/AIDS.

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