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Scientists have not yet found any cure for HIV/AIDS. In this technologically advanced modern world, there is still need to create awareness amongst people about how to avoid HIV/AIDS, and how to treat people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. This scary disease is still one of the leading causes of death amongst men and women in both, developing and developed countries. Symptoms of HIV/AIDS in men and women are almost similar. Take a look at the HIV symptoms timeline presented below.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) belongs to the retrovirus family. HIV is a type of lentivirus and it is responsible for the development of the scary disease known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV is a sexually transmitted virus and it is present in the body fluid of the infected individual. So, the virus is likely to be transmitted from one person to another through blood, vaginal fluid, breast milk of the infected women and blood, semen of the infected man. Transmission of the virus is possible during blood transfusion, unprotected sex, or it can be transmitted through a common needle used to administer intravenous drugs. During pregnancy and breast feeding, an infected woman is likely to pass over the virus to the child.

As we all know, white blood cells (WBCs) form an important part of our immune system. WBCs help fight all types of infections and diseases. HIV starts destroying WBCs in the body and thus, weakens the immune system. This makes the body susceptible to infections and diseases. A fixed pattern regarding the symptoms of HIV/AIDS is seen in adult patients.

HIV Symptoms in Women

Early Symptoms: 0 - 1 Month
Exposure to HIV and development of flu like symptoms, within a week or month, is named as acute HIV infection. The immune system, as a part of its defense policy, develops antibodies against HIV. The process of development of noticeable level of antibodies is called seroconversion. The symptoms include, fever, headache, body aches and weakness, sore throat, swollen lymph glands, skin rash, digestive system problems, etc. These symptoms are likely to go unnoticed, or to be misinterpreted as various other illnesses also exhibiting the same symptoms. HIV tests carried out before the seroconversion does not help detect the virus. In some women, seroconversion takes place within a month, while in some it may take place after six months.

1 Month - 10 Years
After the above symptoms are lowered with medicines, the disease enters into a phase which is asymptomatic. So, no HIV symptoms are exhibited by the women after 1 year. This asymptomatic stage may last for about 10 years. Thus most HIV positive women do not show any symptoms of HIV for about 10 years after the early flu like symptoms. But as the virus is present in their body, they unknowingly keep on transmitting the virus to others through unprotected sex or blood transfusion; or through sharing syringe needles. If these women become pregnant, their children develop HIV/AIDS. After 5-6 years, HIV positive women may notice weight loss, loss of appetite, digestive system problems, skin infection, but these are usually overlooked or misinterpreted.

11 - 13 Years
This is referred to as the third stage of the HIV disease. After an asymptomatic stage of about 10 years, the disease again starts exhibiting flu like symptoms, for example, mild to high fever, cough and cold, chills, night sweats, diarrhea, etc. Women experience major weight loss and suffer from frequent fungal, yeast, viral and bacterial infections (vaginal infections, skin infections, infection of the urinary tract, bladder infection, respiratory tract infection, etc.). They may experience breathing difficulty as well. HIV positive women are most likely to suffer from gynecological problems like, abnormalities in menstrual cycles, pelvic inflammatory disease, frequent skin rashes, genital warts and ulcers, neuropathy, swollen glands in the neck, armpit and the groin area, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, anxiety and difficulty in sleeping. Body fat disposition changes and women experience severe fatigue and weight loss. Some women may get abnormal results for a Pap smear test, indicating cervical dysplasia. Genital warts, genital ulcers and severe mucosal herpes infections are common in HIV infected women after 10-12 years. White spots or abnormal blemishes in the mouth are also seen in most HIV positive women.

After about 13 Years
Completely weakened immune system due to drastic loss of WBCs is the main symptom of AIDS. When the immune system completely loses its ability to fight infections, AIDS is diagnosed in HIV positive men and women. But this process takes several years to show the symptoms. AIDS being a syndrome, diagnosis of AIDS implies that the person with AIDS is likely to suffer from a group of conditions. The conditions include opportunistic infections (like tuberculosis, herpes, pneumonia, thrush and even brain diseases caused by parasites), continuous severe weight loss over years (known as 'wasting'), cancers (lymphomas and Kaposi's sarcoma) and neurological complications (dementia that severely affects thinking, motion and behavior).

This type of 'HIV symptoms timeline' is generally observed in adult HIV patients. But it may vary from patient to patient. I hope this article has succeeded in conveying the message that despite no HIV symptoms in women after 1 year, or rather for about 10 years, the HIV positive women can transmit the disease to various persons. Drug addicts who share needles are more likely to suffer from HIV/AIDS. Use of sterilized needles and correct use of condoms is necessary to prevent HIV/AIDS. A simple blood test helps detect HIV-antibody and helps diagnose HIV. As the time taken by the body to develop a detectable amount of HIV antibodies varies from person to person, repetitive tests are recommended. And remember, no one gets HIV/AIDS by kissing, hugging or the normal physical touch during everyday life, using the same sheets or utensils used by the infected person, through sweat or saliva. So, don't avoid or hate HIV patients. They need love and family support to fight the situation.