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HIV & women

This booklet is about HIV and women. Whether you are newly diagnosed with HIV, or have been living with HIV for a long time, the information here is to help answer your questions on living well with the virus, and on talking to your doctor and others involved in your health care. It is not intended to replace discussion and guidance from your doctor.

The booklet includes information on some of the day-to-day issues involved in living with HIV, as well as information on HIV treatment, sexual health, contraception and pregnancy.

An HIV diagnosis is a life-changing event. It is important to know that a woman with HIV can live a healthy life; have a baby without passing on HIV; work, study, attend school or college; and have emotional and sexual relationships.

In the UK, people with HIV are protected by law against discrimination in employment, housing and the provision of goods and services under the Equality Act 2010.

HIV & women is also available online in Dutch, French, German, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

  • Living with HIV

    We asked a group of women who had been living with HIV for some time how they had felt and responded when they first had their diagnosis. “This...

  • Keeping well

    HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) weakens your immune system. When you become HIV-positive, you might not feel ill or even know you have HIV. Once you have been...

  • Health checks for HIV

    To protect your immune system and maintain your health and wellbeing, it is recommended that you have regular medical monitoring. This will measure the health of your immune...

  • HIV and your body

    As well as affecting your immune system, HIV may affect your hormonal system. You may experience menstrual changes if you have a low CD4 cell count and/or...

  • Sex and HIV

    Many women with HIV experience a temporary loss of libido or find sex painful. You may also experience anxiety about starting a new relationship or transmitting HIV,...

  • Contraception

    Both male and female condoms (Femidoms) are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, the transmission of HIV and most sexually transmitted infections. However, they need to be used properly...

  • Conception

    All women have the right to make their own choices about fertility and childbirth, regardless of their HIV status, and you should expect and receive the same...

  • Pregnancy and birth

    Antenatal testing for HIV and early diagnosis and taking HIV treatment can help to reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby. There are two ways in which...

  • HIV treatment in women

    To find out more about specific types of HIV treatment, or antiretroviral therapy, see the NAM booklet Anti-HIV drugs in this series. Women tend to get higher levels...

  • Other health checks and care

    If you are over 50, you should be called for a breast screen (mammogram) every three years to check for the presence of breast abnormalities and breast cancer....

  • HIV and hepatitis co-infection

    Hepatitis is a viral infection that affects your liver. Some types – hepatitis B and C – can cause long-term, serious health problems. Many people with HIV...

  • Mental health, emotional wellbeing and depression

    Women with HIV often report experiencing feelings of isolation, depression, loss of sleep and anxiety on diagnosis. An HIV diagnosis is a life-changing event and these responses...

  • Disclosure

    Disclosing your HIV status can be frightening. It is important to take time to think about the advantages and disadvantages of doing so. You may fear you...

  • Prison and HIV

    Women in prison should have access to health care of the same range and quality as that of the general population. If you are on treatment, it...

  • Getting specialist help

    It is important that you get your HIV care from a specialist HIV treatment centre. You might want to contact a support organisation or a helpline for guidance...

  • Summary

    You can live well with HIV.Being involved in your own health care can help to keep you well. CD4 and viral load tests are key in...

  • Where to go for information, help and support

    You can use our online tool, the e-atlas, to search for services near where you are. You may also find our other resources helpful and...

HIV & women

Published November 2010

Last reviewed November 2010

Next review December 2013

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.