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HIV/AIDS in Women

Summary

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, kills or damages cells of the body’s immune system. The most advanced stage of infection with HIV is AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

HIV often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. It may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person.

Women can get HIV more easily during vaginal sex than men can. And if they do get HIV, they have unique problems, including:

  • Complications such as repeated vaginal yeast infections, severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and a higher risk of cervical cancer
  • Different side effects from the drugs that treat HIV
  • The risk of giving HIV to their baby while pregnant or during childbirth

There is no cure, but there are many medicines to fight both HIV infection and the infections and cancers that come with it. People can live with the disease for many years.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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  • HIV Symptoms Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health

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