Are HIV symptoms in women likely to be different?

November 12, 2012

Are HIV symptoms in women likely to be different?

Symptoms of the HIV infection not only differ between men and women but also from individual to individual – and, in the early stages, may be extremely vague and easily mistaken for another medical condition entirely. Many of the variation of HIV symptoms in women are due to the biological differences between the sexes.

Pap smear test abnormality

An abnormal Pap smear test, which highlights cell changes within the pelvic area may well be an early HIV symptom in women, these changes may, in the early stages, be very slight, but, even when they are more severe the changes are often mistaken for another condition.

Persistent, recurring vaginal infections

Due to the adverse effect the HIV virus has on the immune system infections are likely to occur more frequently, couple this with an organism imbalance in the vaginal area and severe vaginal infections may be the result – these types of infection are probably one of the most common HIV symptoms in women.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, commonly referred to as PID, is another infection that may well be indicative of a number of medical conditions and should not be exclusively thought of as an HIV symptom in women. Pelvic inflammatory disease is a persistent infection of the pelvis, which is extremely difficult to treat and may cause infertility.

Recurring yeast infections

Frequent, severe yeast infections are common symptoms of HIV infection in women, although they may be caused by other infections – including viruses. Any woman who is experiencing yeast infections which are persistent and difficult to get rid of should seek the advice of her medical practitioner.

Abnormal changes to the cervix

Another possible HIV symptom in women is abnormal changes and dysplasia in the cervix – dysplasia is the medical term for abnormal cell development. The HIV virus causes abnormal cell changes in the cervix, which if left undetected, may lead to cancer.

Genital warts and ulcers

The appearance of genital ulcers and/or warts is an indication of a viral infection (including HPV) but may also be regarded as possible HIV symptoms in women – the presence of one viral infection increases the likelihood of exposure to other viruses, not just the HIV virus.

Severe mucosal herpes infections

Repeated herpes infections of the mucous membranes may be an indication of immune system impairment and compromise. As the HIV infection reduces the effectiveness of the body’s natural immune system this type of infection may become more and more frequent.

Vaginal discharge

Vaginal discharge of any kind is almost always a cause for concern and should be referred to your medical practitioner. It is possible that any discharge may be the result of an HIV infection – and if you are aware that you have been exposed to the virus – this should be considered a possibility. Whether the discharge is clear, cloudy or appears to be coloured and whatever the capacity of the discharge it is important to seek medical advice regarding its possible cause.

‘flu like symptoms with attendant rash

Shortly after exposure to the HIV virus many people report experiencing what they assume to be a dose of the ‘flu with the usual symptoms – fever, chills, aches and pains, nausea, diarrhoea. In addition they report the appearance of a rash – it is this rash which may well indicate the presence of the HIV virus and means that medical advice should be sought.

HIV antibodies

When an individual is first exposed to the HIV virus the body will produce antibodies in order to fight the infection – the presence of these antibodies may be noted during a routine blood test.

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