6 Health Concerns for Women With HIV

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    Understand your unique concerns.
    About a fourth of all Americans living with HIV are women. If you are a woman with HIV, you have many of the same health concerns as men with HIV. You also have some uniquely female concerns. Let's look at six health issues for women with HIV.

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    1. HPV Infections and Cervical Cancer
    HIV places you at greater risk for problems caused by a sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV can cause changes in the cells of your cervix (called dysplasia) which can lead to cervical cancer. Normally the immune system wards off viruses. But HIV weakens the immune system, so you are more likely than others to develop a persistent HPV infection and develop cervical cancer.

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    2. Pregnancy and Childbirth
    Let your doctor know right away if you become pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You'll need to protect your baby from getting HIV. Even if you aren't taking medicine for your own health, you should take HIV medication when you're pregnant. To keep their babies safe, most women with HIV should be on HIV medication by the second trimester of pregnancy.

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    3. Type 2 Diabetes
    Type 2 diabetes is high blood sugar that develops because your body can't use insulin properly. Symptoms include changes in vision, weight loss, and fatigue. HIV medications called protease inhibitors can increase your chances of developing diabetes. Being overweight, getting pregnant, and having family members with the disease also raise your risk.

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    4. Osteoporosis
    You may develop weak bones, called osteoporosis, from HIV drugs, and from HIV itself. Other risk factors are being a woman, going through menopause, smoking, and not being active. A broken bone is often the first sign of osteoporosis. Before that happens, consider having a bone density test to have your bone health checked.

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    5. Heart Disease
    Having HIV for a long time and using HIV medications may raise your risk for heart disease. Other risk factors include low levels of good cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes. HIV may also lead to high blood pressure.

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    6. Mental Health
    You can live a long life with HIV, so to prepare for menopause, get screened for health problems linked to HIV and menopause. Don't forget about a yearly checkup for depression. Also talk with your doctor about alcohol or substance use and sleep or appetite changes.

6 Health Concerns for Women With HIV
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Last Review Date: 2020 Feb 2
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