Women with HIV find it hard to get the healthcare they need.
Women who are living with HIV have the same reproductive health needs as women without HIV. But they may also have gynecologic problems that are related to HIV.
Women with HIV often find it hard to get the healthcare they need. There are several reasons for this. They may:
- Not think that they are at risk for HIV infection
- Not pay attention to warning signs of untreated HIV infection
- Be busy caring for children and other family members who may also be infected with HIV
- Lack social support and face other challenges that prevent them from getting care or sticking to treatment
Early diagnosis of HIV infection allows women to take full advantage of HIV treatments and medicines for opportunistic infections. It also allows women to make informed reproductive choices.
Your primary care provider or a women’s healthcare provider can give you the special care that you need as a woman. It is important to see your primary care provider or women’s healthcare provider regularly for a pelvic exam and a Pap test. Early detection of any gynecologic conditions, treatment, and follow-up are key for staying healthy.
HIV, women, and nutrition
Women living with HIV are at risk for poor nutrition. Women today are busy in their many roles as homemaker, mother, caregiver, wife, and career women. Because of that, they often neglect themselves. Ignoring their health and nutrition puts them at an increased risk of poor nutrition.
Also, women with HIV are more likely to have bone loss (osteoporosis) than women who are not infected with the virus. That is why it is important for women to get enough calcium in their diets. Calcium helps keep bones healthy. Not getting enough calcium can lead to loss of bone mass and tissue. This can lead to broken bone.
Calcium is found in dairy foods. It is also found in calcium-enriched juices and cereals, sardines (with bones), salmon (with bones), collard greens, broccoli, and turnip greens. Women 50 years old and younger need 1000 mg of calcium each day. Pregnant women and women older than 50 need 1200 mg of calcium each day. This amounts to about 3 cups of milk or calcium-fortified orange juice.