HIV is a time bomb, and whether or not it is planted in a woman’s body, she doesn’t know immediately. Sometimes this hidden period lasts for several years. In this case, the time is running out when the woman can still try to block the processes occurring in the body. How to recognize the first symptoms of HIV in women? How does this disease manifest itself at different stages? What can and should be done?
HIV and AIDS are not the same thing.
Many people confuse these two concepts, but this is not the same thing. HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, which is indeed the root cause of AIDS. This virus inhibits the immune system, weakens it and does not allow to fulfill the most important purpose - to resist other diseases.
At the same time, diseases begin to manifest themselves in the body, known as opportunistic. These are bacterial and fungal infections, parasites, viruses, and even some types of cancer. As soon as such a disease begins to progress with danger to life, AIDS is diagnosed. If a person’s immune system functions normally, it deals with them independently. In this case, this is no longer happening, the body loses its ability to protect itself, and we can already see the first manifestations of HIV. When the disease goes into a more serious stage, AIDS can be diagnosed.
Thus, HIV is a virus that can cause AIDS at a certain stage. However, its very presence in the body still does not give grounds for such a diagnosis.
Stages of HIV Infection
The onset of the disease is not always the same. The first signs of HIV in women may be acute, and may not show themselves for several months or even years. To identify a virus at this stage is possible only through a test. To make a diagnosis with good reason, you need to pass 2 types of test. Here are the first symptoms of HIV in women:
- swollen lymph nodes;
- upset stool;
- sore throat when swallowing, tickling sensation;
- a rise in temperature over several days, sometimes to high values;
- local reddening of the skin.
All these signs are very similar to the manifestations of a common cold or mild poisoning, therefore, most often they are taken for them. All of them can be insignificant, implicit, and then generally ignored.
If at this stage no measures are taken to the treatment, the infection begins to develop further. Sometimes it happens at a fast pace, sometimes it takes up to 10 years or more.
Further, the infection may manifest itself as concomitant chronic diseases. They spread to the pelvic area, causing infections of the genital organs.
Secondary HIV symptoms in women:
- frequent illnesses similar to influenza, ARVI and the common cold;
- infectious vaginal discharge, candidiasis, thrush;
- inflammatory processes in the pelvic organs;
- purulent rashes, warts, ulcers on the external genital organs;
- fatigue, muscle weakness;
- chronic rhinitis;
- enlarged lymph nodes;
- lingering cough.
Late symptoms of HIV in women
If untreated, the infection continues to progress. Symptoms are already pronounced, but may still be mistakenly identified with other diseases. It:
- lack of appetite; a woman quickly loses weight;
- constant nervous tension, irritability, alternating with apathy, indifference, loss of interest in life and deep depression;
- increased sweating, especially during sleep;
- severe herpes rash, including on the genitals.
Further, some of the opportunistic diseases, which may include pneumonia, tuberculosis and others, manifest themselves. In this case, it is already possible to speak about the transition of HIV into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
Lack of the body's ability to resist opportunistic diseases leads to their rebirth into a serious and life-threatening stage. The patient cannot even take care of herself. At this stage, the prognosis is unfavorable.
Is HIV being treated?
The answer to this question depends on the terminology of this concept. Treatment is an aid to recovery for a particular disease. Based on this, it can and should be treated. As for the cure, that is, the final victory over the virus, here medicine is still powerless.
You can block the development of HIV, suppress its destructive activity in the body. For this purpose, potent drugs are used. They do not allow the development of deadly diseases. The attack on the human immune system is restrained, but does not stop. It is hoped that medicine will find a solution to this problem.
When to start treating?
It would be good to recommend resolving this issue with the infectious disease specialist as soon as the virus has entered the body. But, alas, if there are any tangible signs of HIV, they are often taken for something else. We can advise only one thing: to undergo regular testing. Based on what data does the doctor prescribe?
- The number of immune cells in the blood. This indicator is called the immune status. As the virus develops, its immune status deteriorates.
- The number of viral cells in the blood - viral load.
- The presence of progressive opportunistic diseases.
Of these three factors, the most significant is the latter. If an opportunistic disease is diagnosed, then the first two indicators may no longer be taken into account. It should be noted that an opportunistic disease can affect different organs. Therefore, along with an infectious diseases doctor, a woman should visit a gynecologist and other narrow specialists.
How to determine and confirm the presence of HIV infection?
For the diagnosis of HIV are conducted 2 types of tests. Primary - screening, and in case of a positive result - the second, confirming. In this case, the screening test is duplicated twice because of its high sensitivity and, as a consequence, the possible fallacy. It uses the same blood sample. The combination of these two tests gives grounds to confirm or cancel the diagnosis with great accuracy.
When can I take a test if an infection is suspected?
If you suspect a possible HIV infection, it is best to undergo initial testing 3 months after this event. If the result is negative, you can repeat the analysis after the same period. In this case, a negative test result gives grounds to exclude infection.
HIV in pregnant women
Late detection of HIV infection in women of childbearing age, unfortunately, often leads to the fact that pregnancy occurs before the presence of the virus is diagnosed. In addition, in some cases, the woman goes for it consciously. During pregnancy, a woman should be tested for HIV three times. If a virus is detected, the extent of damage to the immune system is determined and possible measures are taken to prevent infection of the fetus.
Studies have shown that pregnancy can have a negative effect on the progression of infection. Fetal infection of the fetus occurs in 30-60% of cases, if not carried out any medical therapy. In this case, infection can occur at any time, including during childbirth, and in the postpartum period.
Child immunodeficiency acquired by a child from the mother, may occur immediately after birth. Its most frequent manifestations are:
- pneumonia (chronic);
- persistent stool disorder;
- swollen lymph nodes;
- neurological disorders;
- developmental delay;
HIV-positive mothers do not have specific indications for a cesarean section. The risk of infection of the fetus during delivery is the same for this operation, and for the natural passage of the birth canal. Breastfeeding of an infected mother has to be abandoned.
Thus, it is necessary to know and understand that, in the absence of therapy, HIV infection can progress to AIDS. This is not a deadly, but deadly infection. This virus cannot be cured, but it can and should be treated. Compliance with preventive measures and caution will help eliminate infection. And awareness of the first symptoms of HIV in women and timely test control will make it possible to start treatment in a timely manner and eliminate the serious consequences as much as possible.