(877) 457-3082(866) 660-2593
M-F 6a-9p | Sat 7a-9p | Sun 9a-9p CDT
HIV Symptoms in Women
Reviewed by Ruthann Cunningham, MD, June 26, 2017
HIV was once thought of as a disease
that primarily affected men, but women now make up a significant
portion of those affected by the disease. One-third of all new HIV
cases occur in women. Sexual transmission from an infected
male partner is the most common mode of transmission in women.
Black women are most often affected,
followed by Latinas and whites.
Pregnant HIV positive women can pass the virus to a child during fetal development,
childbirth, or through breastfeeding. In the US, it is mandatory for all pregnant women
to receive an HIV test at some point during her pregnancy or delivery.
What are the symptoms of HIV in women?
Initial symptoms of HIV in women are often vague and easily missed. If
they're noticed, it's still common for women to confuse the symptoms
with those of another illness ("I think I may just have the flu"). This can lead to delayed diagnosis.
HIV testing for women who are
sexually active is recommended as part of routine care by the CDC, and more
often for women who are at high risk (IV drug users, women who have multiple
sex partners). Testing remains the only way to know whether you are infected
When does HIV become AIDS in women?
Once the acute phase of HIV infection is over, there may be a long,
symptom-free period where an infected woman feels "normal" and remains
unaware of her infection. However, the virus is still at work and causing
damage to the body's immune system. This will eventually lead to
AIDS if not detected and treated. Early detection and
treatment is essential to halt the progression of HIV and the development
of AIDS. For more information on AIDS and
AIDS symptoms, see our pages dedicated to these topics.