Contributed by – Healthians team
Generally, symptoms of HIV appear within the first 1-2 months of the infection. But sometimes, they may not appear for a decade. While it is commonly believed that HIV symptoms would be similar for everyone irrespective of their gender, however, that’s not the reality. Each individual, whether a man or a woman, may experience the symptoms of HIV uniquely. Here we are focusing on a few common HIV symptoms in women so if you happen to experience them at any point in your life after you might have been exposed to transmission, you need to undergo an HIV test immediately.
When you contract HIV, your immune system starts the fight against the intruder and you’ll see symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, coughing, sneezing and runny nose. These symptoms usually appear 2-6 weeks after contracting the virus and can last from anywhere between a week and a month. There are high chances that these symptoms of HIV will go unnoticed as they resemble those of a cold and flu and you may not associate them with HIV.
Swollen lymph nodes and pain in muscles and joints
It’s not surprising that HIV infection is often mistaken for flu or another viral infection like hepatitis. It happens because many symptoms are similar, including pain in joints, muscles and lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are a part of your immune system. They tend to get swollen when you contact a virus. They are located in your armpit, groin, and neck.
About half of people get night sweats during the early stages of HIV infection. It is simply your body’s reaction when it gets overheated while trying to fend off an infection. These can be similar to hot flashes in menopausal women.
Sudden and rapid weight loss
Sudden and rapid weight loss is usually a sign of more advanced HIV infection. If you have lost more than 10% of your body weight, and have had diarrhea, weakness and fever for over 30 days, then it means that your immune system is fairly depleted. This sudden weight loss is called AIDS wasting syndrome.
Skin rashes and sores
Skin issues are common in those who are HIV positive. Many different types of skin issues like sores or lesions may form on the skin of the mouth, and anus. It’s always a good idea to have your complete health history examined by a healthcare provider. It will help you determine which diagnostic tests are needed.
Vaginal yeast infections
HIV increases the risk of vaginal yeast infections. Burning in and around the vagina, pain during sex, painful urination or thick, white vaginal discharge could be a possible sign. Yeast infections are common and can occur from time to time. But HIV can cause these infections to occur more frequently.
HIV can increase the likeliness of menstrual changes. It has more to do with weight loss and poor health in the later stages of the infection than the infection itself. It can also become the cause of early menopause and it’s more intense symptoms.
Early HIV diagnosis and treatment can help in controlling the infection and preventing severe complications. However, the stigma around HIV/AIDS stops people from coming forward and talking about it, let alone get tested, which is a risk for themselves as well as others. All of us need to come forward and raise HIV awareness and build a world where an HIV positive individual is respected and treated with dignity and compassion.