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 a person who has HIV. 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 a person who has HIV.
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.
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Top Questions About HIV Prevention and Women (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)
Statistics and Research
- HIV among Women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Intersection of Intimate Partner Violence and HIV in Women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
- ClinicalTrials.gov: HIV/AIDS in Women (National Institutes of Health)