Phase : Acute Illness
It may take a couple of weeks for HIV Symptoms in Women to become visible during this initial phase. For 80% of infected people, the first symptoms appear within two-to-four weeks and often resemble the flu.
These symptoms may include:
- ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals
- muscle aches and joint pain
- vaginal infections, such as yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis
- nausea and vomiting
- night sweats
Of course, thats assuming the symptoms are even visible at all. Many people with HIV may not see symptoms for several years. The only way to truly know for sure whether or not you have HIV is to get tested.
Common Hiv Symptoms In Women Include:
- Pain and fever symptoms as a result of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Yeast, bladder, or urinary infections
- Additional STD outbreaks, such as Human papillomavirus
- Changes in menstrual cycle
One of the most common HIV symptoms in women is having an irregular period, which could cause changes in bleeding, discharge, or PMS symptoms. Additionally, many HIV-positive women experience pain in their upper belly or during sex.
Since the virus also increases the bodys susceptibility to other sexually-transmitted infections, infertility is a high risk for women with HIV.
Seeking treatment as soon as possible is the best course of action, so getting tested often is crucial for anyone who is sexually active or may otherwise contract HIV.
Treatment And Life Expectancy
If HIV develops into stage 3 HIV, life expectancy drops significantly. Its difficult to repair damage to the immune system at this point. Infections and other conditions, such as certain cancers, resulting from severe immune system impairment are common. However, with successful antiretroviral therapy and some immune system recovery, many people with stage 3 HIV live long lives.
With todays treatments for HIV infection, people can live with HIV and never have AIDS develop. Its also important to note that successful antiretroviral treatment and a sustained undetectable viral load greatly lowers the risk of transmitting the virus to a partner.
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Your Throat Is So Sore
An inflammatory response to a serious viral infection can also cause your throat to become inflamed, making it hard to swallow. But unlike strep, your doctor wont spot patches of white, just redness and inflammation like youd get with a cold.
Lots of viruses affect your throat,” says Horberg; but if you’re concerned about HIV, it’s best to see a doctor about this one.
You Have A Canker Sore
Canker sores are tender, round, whitish pits in the lining of your mouthand they can be caused by inflammation as your body tries to fight off HIV, says Horberg.
They often cause a stinging sensation, and are more sensitive to acidic foods like lemons. It should be noted, however, that canker sores happen for a variety of different reasons too, like stress, food allergies, or hormonal changes.
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Symptoms Of Aids In Women
The symptoms of AIDS vary little between women and men. There are some variations, including evidence that women with HIV experience greater cognitive decline and may be more likely to experience signs of HIV encephalopathy than men.
The one AIDS-defining condition exclusive to women is invasive cervical cancer . This is the advanced stage of cervical cancer in which tumor cells have spread to tissues deeper within the;cervix;or to other parts of the body. Though ICC can affect both HIV-positive and HIV-negative women, the incidence among women with HIV is up to seven times greater.
As with other HIV-associated conditions, the risk of ICC increases with declines in the CD4 count. Women with CD4 counts under 200 are six times more likely to get ICC than those whose CD4 counts over 500.
Arguably more concerning is the fact that the incidence of ICC among women with HIV has remained largely unchanged since the 1990s. This is unlike other AIDS-defining conditions that are rarely seen today due to the advent of combination antiretroviral therapy.
Though the reasons for this remain unclear, some studies have suggested that women with HIV are more likely to be infected by less prevalent high-risk strains of HPV that current vaccines cannot protect against.
Phases Of Hiv In Women
In general, the HIV infection follows a similar pattern in men and women. These often show in three stages:
Acute illness: This may or may not occur. If it does, it will usually occur soon after exposure to the infection.
Asymptomatic period: This is a significantly longer phase. Like the name says, HIV carriers will not experience any symptoms. This period of time can last ten years or more.
Advanced infection: In this late phase of infection, carriers will experience a highly weakened immune system. This is the stage that makes you susceptible to a number of other illnesses that are tougher for HIV to combat.
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You’re Always Waking Up With Night Sweats
Getting damp on a muggy night without air conditioning is definitely not the same as night sweats, which result in puddles of sweat thatll make you want to change your sheets. The body is trying to release off toxins, says Horberg.
Although HIV can cause night sweats, plenty of other potential culprits do as well, including menopause, mononucleosis, and cancers like lymphoma and leukemia, says Horberg. So if youre soaking your sheets over the course of a few nights, definitely check in with your doctor.
Symptom : Night Sweats
Many people will get night sweats during the early stages of HIV. These can be even more common later in infection and arent related to exercise or the temperature of the room.
With such a vast array of symptoms, HIV testing is vital to ensure a proper diagnosis. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, or have an active sex life with casual sex partners, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms of HIV or not, its important to get tested as soon as possible.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv
No two people with HIV will have the same symptoms, and some may not have any at all. But the infection can cause some common changes over time.
In the first few weeks: These first, flu-like symptoms happen because your body is reacting to HIV. Your immune system is trying to fight it off. The symptoms at this stage can include:
- Aches and pains in muscles and joints
Keep in mind that even if you have these symptoms, that doesnât automatically mean you are HIV-positive. Many different illnesses can cause these problems. Talk to a doctor or an HIV testing facility if you think you might be infected.
At this early stage of HIV infection, itâs important to know that you may not get accurate results from an HIV test. It can take 3-12 weeks for enough signs of the virus to show up on routine tests for the infection, which measure antibodies against HIV. A new kind of screening, called a nucleic acid test, can detect the virus itself during this early stage, but itâs expensive and not usually used for routine HIV testing.
Let the testing site or your doctor know if you think you might be recently infected. Also, be sure to use a condom every time you have sex, and take other steps to prevent spreading the virus.
After years with untreated HIV, youâre likely to get infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that your body is no longer strong enough to fight off. They can be a sign that your infection has gone from HIV to AIDS. You might have:
- Weight loss
You Might Develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the upper genital tract and may impact the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, leading to pain in the pelvis.
PID may be more severe in women who are HIV-positive than in women who test negative for the virus. It may also be more difficult to treat, according to a study from 1997. The 2000 report by the American Academy of Family Physicians also found that a relationship between HIV-associated PID and bacterial vaginosis appears to exist.
Women with HIV may experience longer-lasting or more severe symptoms, including increased vaginal discharge or severe abdominal pain, or they might find that their PID is harder to treat. PID symptoms might also return more often with HIV, even after HIV treatment has begun.
PID is often associated with other STIs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, and if youre diagnosed with one of these conditions, you should also get tested for HIV since it could be a factor in the severity of your PID.
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Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
You’re Breaking Out In A Rash
Some people who experience HIV symptoms notice a light red rash all over their bodies, including their arms, torso, and legsalthough it can appear in just one or two spots.
Its a general redness, not discrete red bumps. If youve ever had a drug reaction rash, its similar to that, says Horberg.
It usually lasts at least a week, and most patients say its not itchy; its a reaction to fever along with your bodys natural inflammation response as it fights off infection.
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Is There Any Treatment Of A Cure For Hiv/aids
Currently, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. People living with HIV will need lifelong treatment. The best treatments right now are combinations of prescription drugs. These medications include antiviral treatment, protease inhibitors and other drugs that help people who are living with HIV stay healthy. People living with HIV also can stay healthy by doing things like eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep.
Is There A Period When The Virus Isnt Transmittable
HIV is transmittable soon after its introduced into the body. During this phase, the bloodstream contains higher levels of HIV, which makes it easy to transmit it to others.
Since not everyone has early symptoms of HIV, getting tested is the only way to know if the virus has been contracted. An early diagnosis also allows an HIV-positive person to begin treatment. Proper treatment can eliminate their risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.
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Which Are First Signs Of Hiv In Females
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Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the bodys natural response to HIV infection.;
Flu-like symptoms can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.
Dont assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptomsthey can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test.
Heres what to do:
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You Actually Get Diagnosed With Meningitis
As HIV disseminates through your central nervous system, it can cause viral meningitis, a swelling of the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord, says Amesh Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopskins Bloomberg School of Public Health. According to the CDC, common symptoms of viral meningitis include fever, irritability, lethargy, and vomiting.
Cryptococcal meningitis is also commonly associated with HIV infections, though usually in later stages or in patients with AIDS. Most people are exposed to the cryptococcus fungus at some point, but a weakened immune system cant fight off exposure the way a healthy one can.
Increased Outbreaks Of Other Sexually Transmitted Infections
For people who already have another sexually transmitted infection , HIV can lead to worsening symptoms.
Human papillomavirus , which causes genital warts, is more active in people who have HIV. HIV can also cause more frequent and more intense outbreaks in people with genital herpes. Their bodies may not respond as well to their herpes treatment, either.
- not sharing needles when using injected drugs
- taking pre-exposure prophylaxis ; the US Preventive Services Task Force recommends this preventive medication for people with known risk factors for HIV
- not douching after sex; it can alter the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, making an existing infection worse or increasing the risk of contracting HIV and STDs
- using a condom, properly, if not in a monogamous relationship with an HIV-negative partner
Women without HIV who have HIV-positive partners arent at risk of contracting the virus if their partner uses HIV medications daily and achieves viral suppression, though ongoing use of a condom is recommended.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Trusted Source , HIV-positive people pose effectively no risk of transmitting HIV when their viral load is consistently measured at fewer than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.
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What Do Hiv Skin Lesions Look Like
HIV and your skin
Your immune system controls every part of your body, including its largest organ: the skin. Skin lesions from HIV are a response to related immune function deficiencies. Skin lesions can differ in appearance and symptoms.
The severity of your condition can also vary, and it may even coincide with the effectiveness of your current HIV treatment.
Its important to tell your doctor about any skin lesions you notice. Your doctor can help you treat them and make adjustments to your overall HIV treatment plan if needed. Learn more about HIV-associated rash.
Skin Sores And Skin Rashes
Around 90 % of HIV-infected people would be developing skin issues. Skin rash is supposed to be the most common HIV infection symptom.; HIV positive individuals usually suffer from skin issues as their skin could become highly sensitive to the sunlight and other irritants. The rash could be in the form of a flat patch slightly red with small bumps. Your skin could even become flaky. You may develop lesions and sores on the mouth, anus, and even the genitals and it could be pretty challenging to treat these problems. HIV-infected patients would have higher chances of developing shingles and herpes. Skin issues could become less intense with the use of proper medication.
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Get Tested For Hiv Early
If early HIV symptoms in women are present, just like in men, it is a good idea to get tested right away. However, it is important to remember that HIV does not always show signs or symptoms. If you are sexually active, you should be tested regardless. Luckily, there is an easy and convenient way to test from home!; Heres how it works:
- Order:; Order your HIV test online. It will arrive in 1-3 days in a discreet package. You may want to consider a combination panel kit, which allows you to screen for multiple infections at once. These include the 5-panel Safe Box, 8-panel Uber Box, the Love Box for you and your partner to test together, and the comprehensive 14-panel Total Box.
- Test: It only takes about 5 minutes to use your test. This can be done at any time and from any place.
- Return: Send your sample back to the lab. We even provide a pre-paid addressed return envelope.
- Get Results: Your lab-certified results will soon be available online!
Now you can better recognize early HIV symptoms in women and men. This will better prepare you to identify any problematic health signs you may experience. That said, the best thing you can do for your sexual health is to get tested. Its the only way to know for sure that you know your status! Dont stress, just test.
Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA