Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is still a problem affecting people on a regular basis today, even though we don’t hear much about it anymore. The AIDS crisis is still a problem. But you may not know about how it impacts women’s health. In recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, we want to share more about women and AIDS and why you should protect yourself.
Perhaps most important is the fact that an estimated 1 in 9 women don’t know their HIV status. As many as 43% of people don’t have any symptoms with their initial HIV infection. Dr. Alan Patterson explains more about how HIV can affect your health.
Women hold a greater risk of contracting HIV compared to men. Women are twice as likely to contract HIV compared to men per sexual act because of the porosity of the vaginal tissues. Women also have a greater chance of having their HIV progress to full-blown AIDS.
Some sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) increase the likelihood that you’ll get HIV. If you have an STD, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, you’re more likely to get an HIV infection.
If you contract an HIV infection, a lot depends on whether or not your disease reaches seroconversion. This is the first stage of an active infection with HIV. During the seroconversion phase of the illness, it takes 7-14 days.
You may experience acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), the symptoms of which are similar to the flu. You may have body aches, a mild fever, and swollen glands or a rash.
When women get HIV, they may have other symptoms as well. Some of the common symptoms among women with HIV may include:
These problems may occur early after being infected or may appear later in the course of the disease.
If you’re infected with HIV, you may have other problems as well. Some of these problems include the following:
If you have HIV, your immune system doesn’t do the usual things to protect your vaginal health. As such, you may be more likely to get frequent yeast infections. The frequency and severity of yeast infections is correlated to the decline of your CD4 count (the count of your T-cells, which fight disease.)
You may be more likely to experience irregular menstrual cycles. In particular, you may have an absence of periods (amenorrhea) or irregular periods (oligomenorrhea.) These problems are likely to get worse as your CD4 count decreases.
You may have difficulty conceiving a child after an HIV diagnosis. If you do get pregnant, you can usually manage the pregnancy with HIV safely with medical supervision. However, you may have pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can make conceiving more difficult.
Chronic pelvic pain is a common feature in women with HIV. You may have chronic pelvic pain due to inflammation in the pelvic area. You may also have more pain with intercourse.
If you think that you may have HIV, you should get checked out. Contact Dr. Alan Patterson in Coral Springs, FL, or request an appointment online.