Women and Body Image (cont.)
Living with a chronic disease like HIV can affect a woman's body image. Drugs that a woman needs to stay healthy and to treat HIV-related illnesses can change how she feels and looks. Side effects such as nausea, fatigue, headache, diarrhea, and weight loss, can vary from person to person and be mild to extreme. Living with HIV can be stressful, affecting a woman's self-esteem and mental health. Women may need to care for children and other family members who also have HIV. Feeling alone, overwhelmed, and depressed at times is normal. Taking care of yourself and having a positive attitude is important. Getting the support you need from family and friends is equally important. For more, please visit the AIDS/HIV Center.
Lupus and other autoimmune diseases can affect a woman's body image in many ways. Physical changes a woman has no control over can occur. With lupus, there is a trademark "butterfly" rash on the face and hair loss. Fatigue that can often be extreme is a partner in all of these illnesses, and can lead to depression. Coping with not feeling well, sometimes every day, can be very stressful. A woman may lose her independence or not be able to care for her family. It is important for women to talk about their concerns and to get the support they need. Many advances are happening with the diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune diseases.