HIV in Women
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is one of the deadliest and far-reaching sexually transmitted diseases. The frequency at which the disease is contracted by males and females has begun to differ. According to historical statistics, the HIV/AIDS(Read more about AIDS statistics) epidemic has affected more men than women. However, the number of newly infected women is increasing daily. If HIV contraction trends continue to increase at current rates, HIV in women or females suffering from the virus will soon outnumber males.
Recent statistics have concluded that HIV/AIDS affects a disproportionate number of African-American women in the United States. These statistics confirm that the disease has become the leading cause of death amongst African-American women between the ages of 25 and 34.
HIV in Women by Statistics
Recent statistics regarding HIV/AIDS distribution amongst Illinoisan women reveal the virus’ disproportionate effect amongst various demographic groups. The statistic reveals that roughly “68% of Illinois women living with HIV are African American, while African Americans only make up 15% of the Illinois population. Caucasian women account for 16% of Illinois women living with HIV, while the Caucasian population represents more than 73% of Illinois residents. Latina women represent roughly 11% of the cases of HIV in women, while 13% of the Illinois population is Latino. Roughly 4% of women with HIV are from Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander and other communities.”
Similar to the male population, approximately 2/3 of new cases of HIV in women can be attributed to risky sexual behavior, while the remaining 1/3 of cases are a result of needle sharing and other risky behaviors of injection drug users.
Symptoms of AIDS or HIV in Women
Both male and female victims of HIV infection suffer the same symptoms during the period of active infection, which can range from no visible effects to flu-like illnesses (including fever, headache, tiredness and enlarged lymph nodes). The HIV infection then moves into the latent phase(Read more about HIV Stages), which with proper medication, may last 10 or more years.
As the disease continues to progress and the immune system continues to weaken, a variety of complications begin to take effect. One of the most common initial signs of infection are large lymph nodes or “swollen glands” that may be enlarged for more than three months, followed by a lack of energy, fatigue, weight loss, frequent low-grade fevers and night sweats, frequent yeast infections (in the mouth), skin rashes or flaky skin, and short-term memory loss.
Aside from common symptoms amongst men and women, there are also gender-specific symptoms that appear solely in female patients. Female HIV positive patients are prone to vaginal yeast infections and other vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis; common sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, Chlamydia and trichomoniasis; human papillomavirus (HPV) infections that cause genital warts and can lead to cervical cancer; pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infection of a women’s reproductive organs and menstrual cycle changes.
HIV in Women and Pregnancy
A woman who is HIV positive should remember that HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy, during delivery, or post-delivery during breast feeding. Although the virus is extremely infectious, most pregnant women with HIV can protect their child from contracting the virus. Proper pre-natal treatment can reduce the risk of transmission to less than 1%.
Curtailing Future Transmission
As with every infectious disease, HIV/AIDS should be dealt with by using proper protection during sex and by avoiding risky behavior that could further transmit the infection.