HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus that is responsible for causing AIDS in its later stages. An awareness regarding its signs is a must to prevent the spread of this disease.
The number of HIV infected women, has been increasing steadily worldwide. According to World Health Organization, 47% of adults world wide suffering from HIV/AIDS are women. The percentage of youth suffering from this condition has also been on a constant increase. This shows that there is still a lack of awareness about HIV and AIDS. Millions of people contract curable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections each year, and the number of women amongst that is more than men. Yet, the diagnosis of either curable or incurable STDs are very low.
How is HIV Infection Transmitted?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that is transmitted from one person to another essentially by body fluids. These fluids include blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Transmission through saliva is unheard of, yet it can happen if there are sores or cuts in the mouth of the infected person. The most common way in which this infection spreads is through unprotected anal, oral or rectal sexual intercourse between homosexual or heterosexual partners. The next mode of transmission is through blood which may be due to blood transfusions or through infected needles and syringes. Another way of transmission is from an infected mother to the child during pregnancy, at the time of birth or during breastfeeding.
HIV infection does not spread through tears, sweat, cough or sneeze, sharing towels, utensils, sauna, swimming pools, showers, toilets or tubs, or through touching or hugging. Care should be taken in case of cuts, sores or skin infection, and preferably do not share a toothbrush and razor. Now let us see some HIV symptoms in women that are seen in the early days of infection.
Early Symptoms of HIV Infection in Women
The early signs and symptoms of HIV in women are mostly flu-like and include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sore throat
- Swelling of lymph nodes
The early symptoms of HIV in women can be easily identified by the increased susceptibility to infections like yeast infection, vaginal infection, bacterial vaginosis, burning, itching and dryness in vagina. The chances of other sexually transmitted diseases also increase like gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV (Human papillomavirus). The infected woman may find urinating as well as the sexual intercourse extremely painful. There may be notable changes in the menstrual cycle; heavy bleeding, bleeding between the cycle or no bleeding at all.
Apart from these early HIV symptoms in women, the other symptoms that manifest a little later are:
- Chronic muscle and joint pain
- Tiredness and constant fatigue
- Persistent infections
- Pelvic Inflammatory Diseases
- Weight loss
- Frequent fever
- Night sweats
- Genital ulcers
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Flaky skin
- Blurred vision
- Short term memory loss
- Enlarged glands
The virus weakens the immune system and the condition manifests into AIDS that is an incurable stage. It has been found that the virus may remain dormant in the infected body for as long as 7-10 years or it may start showing infection signs within a few months of infection. This is majorly dependent on the health of the infected person, resistance provided by the immune system and the lifestyle that one follows.
Knowing the early signs of HIV infection helps in initial diagnosis and that in turn increases the life expectancy. Therapies and treatments for the HIV related infections can be more effective if the condition is detected early. Women, in general, neglect their health and it has been found that most women get diagnosed in later stages when the health care and treatments become less effective. Apart from that, knowing about early symptoms of HIV in women helps to prevent the spread of infection, and also start the much-needed treatment.