health (gynaecological) problems happen more often in women with HIV, and can
be more severe, or harder to treat.
screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an important part of
your health care. If you have an infection that can be transmitted sexually,
your sexual partners will need to have a sexual health screen before you have
sex again so that they can also have any infections diagnosed and treated.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is always a serious
condition, especially if you also have HIV. It can be caused by untreated STIs
such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia,
as well as other bacteria and infections such as tuberculosis. PID can make you
infertile (unable to get pregnant).
in the lower part of your stomach area
bleeding from the vagina.
general sexual health check-up will include tests to see if you have gonorrhoea
or chlamydia. You may need a
scan to see if the PID has caused any cysts or abscesses, or an examination
called a laparoscopy. This procedure involves a surgeon making a small cut in
the stomach to insert a tube that allows them to see inside the abdomen and the
pelvis. It is done under a general anaesthetic.
you have PID you will be treated with a combination of antibiotics. Getting
help and treatment early is important to reduce the risk of long-term pain and
recurrence of the PID.
living with HIV may be more likely to have abnormal cervical cells caused by
the human papillomavirus (HPV). Some
strains of this virus can lead to cervical cancer. It is possible for your body
to clear HPV infection itself, but HIV-positive women are much less likely than
HIV-negative women to do so.
sure you have regular cervical screening
(smear test) to check for these cells so that you can receive prompt treatment
to remove them. All HIV-positive women should have a cervical screen soon after
they are diagnosed with HIV, again after six months and then every year after that. Treatment for
abnormal cervical cells is highly effective, provided they are detected early.
strains of HPV can cause genital warts, but these don’t always leave visible
signs. They can be detected by cervical screening and treated by applying a
cream, or by freezing or burning them off.
herpes (herpes simplex virus-2, or
HSV-2) can last longer and be more painful if you have HIV. The anti-viral drug
aciclovir can help shorten the duration of herpes episodes. If you are getting
regular episodes of herpes, you may wish to consider taking aciclovir every day
to prevent this.
there is an increased risk of fungal infections if you are HIV-positive, such
as vaginal candidiasis (thrush),
treatment works well.
Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of bacteria in the
vagina that occurs in many women, regardless of their HIV status. It can
increase the risk of mother-to-baby transmission of HIV. Its symptoms include a
discharge which has a ‘fishy’ odour. It can be treated with antibiotics. Using
scented or strong soaps on the genital area should be avoided to prevent
irritation. Excessive washing of the vagina (douching) increases your risk of
developing bacterial vaginosis.