The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the immune system of our body making it more prone to infections and diseases. According to the National AIDS Control Organisation (NADO), there are approximately 2.5 million people in India who are living with HIV-AIDS, out of which 1 million are women. Therefore, it has become extremely critical to know about the disease well. In this article learn about the early and late symptoms of HIV in women that you can observe for yourself so that an early diagnosis and treatment of the disease can be done.

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Early Symptoms of HIV in Women

The early stage of HIV is an acute infection that is observed after 2 to 4 weeks of coming in contact with HIV. At this stage, the person is most contagious. The early symptoms of HIV in women are generally flu-like.


Some of the early HIV symptoms in women include:

  • Headache 
  • Swollen lymph nodes: Lymph nodes located in the neck, armpits, back of the head, and groin get swollen due to the response of our immune system against the HIV virus. 
  • Oral ulcers: They are cream-colored plaques that appear on the palate, tongue, and lips that leave a red surface underneath. 
  • Sore throat
  • Rashes on the skin: Skin rashes in case of HIV infection are reddish, itchy, and painful. These rashes may also look like boils with pink breakouts.
  • Night sweats: When your body tries to fight HIV infection, it may lead to sweating at night.
  • Fatigue
  • Chills 
  • Muscle ache
  • Fever: It is one of the earliest and most common signs of HIV infection.
  • Joint pain
  • Digestive problems: HIV infection can also lead to issues related to the digestive system like diarrhoea, vomiting, and nausea.
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Cough 


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Late Symptoms of HIV in Women

The later stage of HIV infection is most severe. The symptoms at the later stage of infection in a woman are extreme and may include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Opportunistic infections like tuberculosis, pneumonia, and candidiasis
  • Infection of the eyes, skin, kidney, lungs, brain, and digestive tract.
  • Increased risk of cancers like non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Kaposi sarcoma, and cervical cancer.

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Other symptoms at a later stage of HIV include:

  • Recurrent fever
  • Lethargy
  • Night sweats
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Pneumonia
  • Memory loss
  • Sores of the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Depression
  • Blotches (brown, red, purple, or pink) under the skin and inside the mouth, eyelids, and nose.

Some symptoms in the later stage of HIV are extremely unique to women. These symptoms include:

  • Changes in the menstrual cycle: You might experience a lighter, heavier, or no menstrual cycle at all post-HIV infection. You may even experience severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): You might experience pain in your lower belly due to the infection of your ovaries, uterus, or fallopian tube. The PID can further lead to fever, unusual vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, and irregular periods.
  • Vaginal yeast infection or candidiasis: This is one of the most common opportunistic infections seen in women with HIV. The overgrowth of a fungus known as Candida leads to vaginal candidiasis. As the number of CD4 cells decreases, the severity, and frequency of infection increase. The symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include pain during intercourse, white, thick vaginal discharge, painful urination, and a burning sensation around the vulva and the vagina.
  • Impaired fertility: Infertility and ectopic pregnancy can also be caused due to PID. Since HIV infection suppresses your immune system, the pelvic disease persists even after treatment leading to an increased risk of pregnancy.
  • Vaginal ulcers: As the CD4 count in women reduces to below 500, the woman is more prone to the infection of herpes simplex virus type2 (HSV-2). This virus is associated with genital herpes. In around 52-72% of cases, HIV is observed to be coinfected with HSV-2. 
  • Bone problems: HIV infection increases the chances of osteoporosis up to 4 times. The co-infection of hepatitis C and the drugs used for the treatment of HIV are also associated with the increased loss of bone minerals.

Takeaway 

HIV infection is a serious and highly contagious infection. It leads to decline of over all health and also paves way for many other diseases and opportunistic infections. If HIV infection is diagnosed at an early stage, it can be effectively treated to give you a long and healthy life. Early diagnosis and treatment of HIV also reduce the risk of HIV-related and non-related illness by around 72%. Now that you know the early and late symptoms of HIV, you can better observe them if you suspect a possible infection of the virus.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. In how much time can women show the symptoms of HIV infection?

    It takes approximately 1-4 weeks after the infection for a woman to show the symptoms of HIV  infection.

  2. What colour of urine indicates possibility of HIV infection?

    When infected with HIV, the colour of your urine changes to red-brown.

  3. Can HIV infection go unnoticed?

    Yes, if you have asymptomatic HIV, then the HIV infection might go unnoticed.

  4. How many stages does HIV infection occurs in

    The infection of HIV occurs in three stages.The first stage is acute infection, the second stage is asymptomatic and in the third stage HIV progresses to AIDS, that is, Acute Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

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Dr. Divya Rohra has completed her MBBS from Grant Medical College and Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, Mumbai in 2019 with an excellent academic and clinical record. She has been the Joint Academic & Research Secretary of her batch in the year 2016-17 and successfully conducted various conferences and CMEs at her college. She has been the Director of Editorial and Web Communications of Rotaract Club of the Caduceus for two years. She has worked as a Paediatrics House Officer and Covid-19 Medical Officer at Mumbai. She has participated in various Quiz competitions, Poster Presentations, Symposia, Medical Documentary making competitions during her UG days and won awards for the same. She is working with PregaJunction as a Medical Content Auditor.

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5 replies on “HIV Symptoms in Women: what are the early and later symptoms of AIDS in women”

  • Avatar
    Raveena sharma
    November 19, 2022 at 10:59 pm

    HIV k koi ek khass pahchan btae ya fr koi Asa test ka Nam btae jisse nisi KO daut na ho k y test HIV k lie he krwaya na rh h or us test m positive h ya negative kse pahchane

    • Avatar
      November 21, 2022 at 6:09 pm

      Aapke sawal k liye shukriya. HIV k bahut saare symtoms h jaise fever,weight loss,muscle ache, diarrhea. agar aapko yeh symptoms dikh rahe h toh kripya doctor ko zaroor dikhaye.

    • Avatar
      November 24, 2022 at 6:58 pm

      Aapke sawaal ke liye sukriya. aap apna sawaal humari health community https://redcliffelabs.com/health-community/ par puch sakte hain. waha par aapko aapke sawaalo ka jawaab bhi mil jaayega and uske saath aapko Health management ke liye content and guidelines bhi mil jaayegi.

  • Avatar
    Asha Kumawat
    November 20, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    Mere pried time m problem ho rahi h ak bar sirf ak bar blood uske bad nahi

    • Avatar
      November 24, 2022 at 6:57 pm

      Aapke sawaal ke liye sukriya. aap apna sawaal humari health community https://redcliffelabs.com/health-community/ par puch sakte hain. waha par aapko aapke sawaalo ka jawaab bhi mil jaayega and uske saath aapko Health management ke liye content and guidelines bhi mil jaayegi.

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