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Opportunistic Infections

HIV Related symptoms

There are many symptoms that can be experienced by people being infected with HIV. The important thing to note is that if you have these symptoms it might not be HIV but many other health conditions. Here are some to look out for. Headaches, fever, tiredness, swollen glands (there are many in the body but noticeably in the neck below your ear), sore throat, thrush, rashes, muscle and joint pain, ulcers in the mouth, cold sores on the lip, night sweats, diarrhea.

If you have an HIV diagnosis and have not started treatment or have recently started then some more serious health problems can be experienced including some very serious. Please contact us if you would like more information about this.  Just because you may experience the above symptoms don’t panic! Talk to your clinic or contact our counselor via our Facebook link on our website.

Tuberculosis

If you’re infected with HIV, you’re at particular risk of acquiring tuberculosis (TB). TB is caused by bacteria that usually attack the lungs. Having HIV means that you are more likely to develop TB  and TB will also accelerate the progression of HIV.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 40% of HIV deaths were due to TB. Without proper treatment, 45% of HIV-negative people who have TB, and almost all HIV-positive people with TB, will die.

In Africa HIV and TB frequently occur together so it is extremely important to be well informed about TB and to be able to recognise the symptoms and to get treatment early.

Symptoms of TB include:

  • Fever with chills
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of strength
  • A persistent cough that may or may not produce phlegm or mucus
  • Anemia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood

TB can be treated, but it’s critical to take every dose of medication for as long as it’s prescribed. Treatment usually lasts six months.

Remember, if you’re living with HIV, it’s important to keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

Sexually transmitted infections

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is spread through sexual contact. People with STIs are far more vulnerable to becoming infected with HIV as the infection may create sores or breaks in the skin that makes infection with HIV more likely.

If you have HIV, your immune system is compromised, which means your body will find it harder to fight off the infection. If you’re HIV-positive and infected with another STI, you’re 3 – 5 times more likely than other HIV-positive people to transmit HIV through sexual contact.

The different STIs include:

  • Candidiasis
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Hepatitis

General symptoms

  • For men and women: Pain when passing urine, blisters, sores or lumps around the genitals or anus, itching, burning, or tingling around the genital area.
  • For women: Bleeding during or after sex, bleeding between your periods, pain during sex, pain in your lower abdomen, a yellow or green discharge from your vagina, a discharge that smells.
  • For men: A discharge from your penis, pain in your testicles.

If you think you may have an STI, it’s important to visit your doctor or clinic for treatment as soon as possible to avoid contracting further HIV related illnesses. Until you know for sure whether you have an STI, it’s best to abstain from sex or use a condom. Remember to inform any current or recent sexual partner/s, so that they can also get tested and treated if necessary.

If you test positive for an STI, you should get tested for HIV, and vice versa.

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