HIV(human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system. The early symptoms of HIV are mild and can be easily referred to other health conditions. Over time, untreated HIV can develop into AIDS. This is the last stage of these conditions when the immune system is severely damaged.
To prevent serious complications, it is important to start treatment as early as possible. Knowing the first symptoms of HIV can help get timely treatment. Most HIV symptoms are similar for both men and women, but not all.
Here are 7 common symptoms of HIV, including those that are specific to women.
HIV makes it harder for your body to fight different viruses and infections. Some of the infections that frequently affect people with HIV include pneumonia, tuberculosis, and oral or vaginal candidiasis. Yeast infections are more common in HIV-positive women. You may also become more susceptible to infections of the skin, eyes, digestive tract, and brain. It can also become difficult to treat common diseases like the flu.
To reduce the risk of getting an infection, it is important to take certain precautions. Frequent hand-washing and using a hand sanitizer can help you decrease the risk of certain infections and their complications.
In the first few weeks after you get infected with HIV, you may not feel any symptoms. But some people experience symptoms similar to flu. You may have headaches, fatigue, fever, and swelling of lymph glands. These symptoms usually disappear within a few weeks. For some people, it can take more than 10 years for more severe symptoms to appear.
Menstrual changes are one of the symptoms typical for women with HIV. Your periods may become lighter or heavier than usual. Sometimes, a woman's period with HIV may stop. It isn’t uncommon for HIV-positive women to experience more severe premenstrual symptoms.
Almost all people with HIV experience skin problems. This is one of the most common HIV symptoms for both men and women. There are many types of skin rashes that can be associated with HIV. It can be sores or lesions on the skin of the mouth, genitals, anus, hands, belly, and legs. Proper treatment can help you improve your skin condition.
People with HIV often experience a low-grade body temperature that ranges between 99.8°F - 100.8°F. This happens because your body tries to fight an HIV that affects you. Since the temperature isn't very high, people who aren’t aware that they have HIV tend to ignore it. Along with elevated body temperature, you may experience night sweats that interfere with sleep.
There are many lymph nodes within your body. You can find them in your neck, arm prints, back of the head, and groins. Lymph nodes are an important part of your immune system. They fight infections by storing immune cells and filtering pathogens in your body. When HIV affects your body, the immune system starts to work intensively to fight the virus. This can cause your lymph nodes to become enlarged. Your lymph nodes can be enlarged for several months.
If you already have a sexually transmitted infection, HIV can aggravate your symptoms and worsen your overall well-being. People with HIV often experience outbreaks of human papillomavirus and genital herpes. The treatment of these conditions may also become less effective because of HIV. If you have difficulty treating or managing symptoms, schedule an appointment to a gynecology clinic and for the prescription of other medications.
Because your immune system is weakened, STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. This is an infection of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. In HIV-positive women, the symptoms of this condition last longer and may be harder to treat.