In the United States, about two out of every three new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in women are due to unprotected s*xual intercourse with an infected partner, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Sharing infected needles for drug use is another leading cause.
Early symptoms of HIV infection may be mild and easily unnoticed and dismissed. Unfortunately, even without noticeable symptoms, an infected person can still pass the virus on to others. Read on to learn some common symptoms of HIV in women.
Early Symptoms Can Be Fleeting
In the early weeks after becoming infected with HIV, it is not uncommon for women to be asymptomatic. Some may have mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, and lack of energy. Often, these symptoms go away within a few weeks.
In some cases, it may take as many as ten years for more severe symptoms to appear. During this time, the virus can still be transmitted from one person to another.
We all have lymph nodes throughout our bodies, including the neck, back of the head, armpits, and groin. As part of the immune system, our lymph nodes work to fend off infections. As the HIV infection begins to spread, the immune system kicks into high gear. The result is enlarged lymph nodes, commonly known as swollen glands. It is often one of the first signs of HIV. In people infected with HIV, swollen glands may last for several months.
HIV makes it harder for the immune system to fight off germs, so it’s easier for opportunistic infections to take hold. Some of these include pneumonia, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C. People with HIV are more prone to infections of the skin, eyes, lungs, kidneys, digestive tract, and brain. It may also be more difficult to treat common ailments like the flu.
Taking extra precautions, including frequent hand washing and taking HIV medications can help prevent some of these illnesses and their complications