People who have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, commonly known as 'HIV', are known as HIV positive people. The virus is the agent of AIDS that is currently incurable. HIV is known to alter the human immune system and makes people much more susceptible and vulnerable to diseases and infections. Body fluids such as semen, blood, breast milk, vaginal fluids etc. of an infected individual contains the virus which can be passed from one person to another during blood-to-blood and/or sexual contact. HIV positive women may even pass on this virus to their children during pregnancy, delivery or by breast feeding them. HIV is also transmitted during oral, anal or vaginal sex, by contaminated hypodermic needles and by blood transfusion.
Mentioned below are a few issues that a HIV positive woman has to face apart from discrimination and stigma, fear of infecting their children or partners, violence and abandonment.
- Menstrual Disorders: Changes in menstrual cycles are frequently reported by HIV infected women. However, menstrual dysfunctions are due to varied reasons that aren't directly related to the disease. Although most of the HIV positive women suffer from amenorrhea i.e. the unusual absence of periods, it is not just due to HIV but also because of weight loss or immunosuppression.
- Contraception: It is very important that the contraception a HIV positive woman chooses not only acts as birth control but also to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Although condoms do not provide exceptional pregnancy prevention, they are excellent at preventing transmission of the HIV virus. Permanent sterilization is usually the most chosen contraceptive method for HIV serodiscordant couples.
- Surgical Complications: HIV positive women are at a higher risk of undergoing gynecologic surgery. This is because they are more vulnerable to pelvic infectious disease that requires surgical intervention. There is also a greater risk of developing vulval cancer in HIV positive women.
- Fertility: There has been an increase in the number of seropositive women contemplating pregnancy and childbirth. Most couples resort to assisted reproduction to lower the risk of horizontal HIV transmission. Studies show that undergoing HIV treatment and having an undetectable viral load is helpful in preventing the transmission of HIV. It is important to consult a medical expert if you are unable to get pregnant after at least 6 months of trying. Fertility problems are more common in HIV positive women than HIV negative women.
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