ROCHESTER, Minn. - Newswise -- If you think AIDS is a disease mostly of young men, think again. Women are the fastest-growing segment of people to contract the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.
Women face HIV risks and complications that can differ from men, according to the December 2003 issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource. Women are particularly vulnerable when fragile vaginal tissues are exposed to seminal fluids containing the virus. (About 75 percent of women who have HIV were infected with the virus during sex with an HIV-infected man.)
Women and men may have the same early signs of HIV -- low-grade fevers, night sweats and weight loss. But women also can have recurrent vaginal infections, genital warts from human papillomavirus infection -- which increases the risk of cervical cancer -- and severe pelvic inflammatory disease, often resulting from hard-to-detect chronic pelvic infections.
Certainly, preventing HIV is best by using latex condoms and knowing your partner's HIV status. But for women at risk, early detection of HIV is important to take full advantage of new medications and therapies that can forestall AIDS symptoms and, for pregnant women, prevent transmission to the baby.
Source: Mayo Clinic