HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It harms your immune system by destroying the white blood cells that fight infection. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
HIV often spreads through unprotected sex with an infected person. Women can get it more easily during vaginal sex than men can. HIV may also spread by sharing drug needles or through contact with the blood of an infected person.
About one in four people in the United States who have HIV are women. Women who have HIV/AIDS have some different problems from men, such as
- Complications such as repeated vaginal yeast infections, severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and a higher risk of cervical cancer
- Different, sometimes more severe, side effects from the drugs that treat HIV/AIDS
- Drug interactions between some HIV/AIDS medicines and hormonal birth control
- The risk of giving HIV to their baby while pregnant or during childbirth
- Women often don't get diagnosed until they are in the later in the stages of HIV infection. This means that they may be more at risk of infections.
There is no cure, but there are many medicines to fight both HIV infection and the infections and cancers that come with it. People who get early treatment can live with the disease for a long time.