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HIV/AIDS Symptoms in Women: Early and Later-Stage Signs

Commonly, the signs and symptoms of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) are the same for both men and women, but not all since there are symptoms that are unique to women. The infection or disease may be similar, but the set of detectable signs can be different for two genders. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS in women and how the infection can be treated.

Note: Some of the symptoms that will be mentioned below may be associated with other medical conditions. Should these be present to you, contact your health care professional at once.

The following are the most common symptoms of HIV, both in its early and later-stage:

Flu-like illness

In the earliest stage of HIV, women will likely experience flu-like symptoms. This stage is referred to as “primary HIV infection”. During this stage, HIV transmission is active. The high amount of viral load in an HIV-positive individual makes the virus transmission effortless. Note that some of these symptoms will go away after a few weeks. These are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Lack of energy
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash
  • Sore throat
  • Night sweat
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Weakness

Viral/Bacterial infections

One of the negative aspects of HIV is making it too hard for the immune system to fight off infections. A weakened immune system can open doors for opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, oral and vaginal candidiasis, herpes simplex virus (HSV), yeast infections, cervical cancer, and lymphoma. When these infections or diseases emerge, it becomes difficult to treat HIV, especially for women. The following areas or organs of the body that are prone to these infections are (1) eyes, (2) kidneys, (3) lungs, (4) digestive tract, (5) and brain.

As stated, it is severe and demanding to treat the mentioned ailments. But with the help of ART or antiretroviral therapy, the effects of the virus in the body can be lessened. ART refers to a kind of treatment where two or more ART drugs are used in combination in treating HIV. Through the help of ART, the viral load in the body is reduced and prevent it from further complicating the immune system. ART improves the quality of life.

Swollen glands

Swollen glands may determine the normal flu, but it can be more than that. When someone experiences swollen glands, it is usually referred to enlarged lymph nodes. If you’ve not known yet, the lymph nodes are located in different parts of the body, such as the neck, armpits, back of the head, and groin region.

When these lymph nodes are enlarged or swollen, it could already be a sign of HIV infection, most especially if you’ve had a suspicion of contracting the virus from someone with HIV. When the virus starts to spread in the entire body, the lymph nodes react, thus, the enlargement of these glands.

Lower belly pain

One of the signs and symptoms of HIV infection is having lower belly pain. The infection happens in the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. This medical condition is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Aside from the infection mentioned here, the disease can also cause:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Fever
  • Irregular periods
  • Painful sensation during sex
  • Pain in the upper belly

One of the opportunistic infections mentioned here is vaginal yeast infections. This is the most common infection that women experience. Some of the symptoms associated with this ailment are:

  • Thick, white discharge from the vagina
  • Painful sensation during urination
  • Burning sensation in the vagina
  • Painful sensation during sex

Advanced infection

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. During this stage, the immune system is severely damaged, which makes it incapable of fighting other infections. Some of its symptoms are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Joint pain
  • Shallow breathing or shortness of breath
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Mental confusion

Should you be diagnosed with AIDS, immediate medical care will be given. The doctor will prescribe ART medication, which you need to strictly follow to avoid acquiring fatal complications. This also explains why knowing your status as early as possible is a must. Take regular visits to the doctor and get posted on your treatment progress.

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