Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) In Women

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideSTDs Pictures Slideshow: Facts About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs Pictures Slideshow: Facts About Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) weakens the body's immune system and increases the body's vulnerability to many different infections, as well as the development of certain cancers.

HIV is a viral infection that is primarily transmitted by sexual contact or sharing needles, or from an infected pregnant woman to her newborn. Negative antibody tests do not rule out recent infection. Most people who are infected will have a positive HIV antibody test within 12 weeks of exposure.

Although there are no specific symptoms or signs that confirm HIV infection, many people will develop a nonspecific illness two to four weeks after they have been infected. This initial illness may be characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint pains, headache, sore throat, and/or painful lymph nodes. On average, people are ill for up to two weeks with the initial illness. In rare cases, the initial illness has occurred up to 10 months after infection. It is also possible to become infected with the HIV virus without having recognized the initial illness.

The average time from infection to the development of symptoms related to immunosuppression (decreased functioning of the immune system) is 10 years. Serious complications include unusual infections or cancers, weight loss, intellectual deterioration (dementia), and death. When the symptoms of HIV are severe, the disease is referred to as the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Numerous treatment options now available for HIV-infected individuals allow many patients to control their infection and delay the progression of their disease to AIDS.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2015
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