Women With HIV & Candida Yeast Infections
Causes of Candida Overgrowth
Hormonally, steroids and birth control pills can trigger a yeast infection.Killing the bacteria in the vagina by using antibiotics upsets the balance in the vagina and allows the Candida to grow unchecked.Douching will also have this effect, and HIV positive women should refrain from this practice.Eating foods rich in starches and sugars like breads, pastas, and beer contributes to the growth of yeast.Women with HIV suffering from recurring yeast infections may have a low CD-4 count or other immune suppression problems. Steroids can also weaken the immune system, promoting the overgrowth of the Candida.
Treating a Candida Yeast Infection
A yeast infection can be itchy and painful, and is often accompanied by a lumpy whitish discharge.Many women self-diagnose and turn to topical drugstore or home remedies to obliterate the fungus; women who are HIV positive should always consult a doctor, as you may need longer and stronger treatment or your CD-4 count may be too low to respond to treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an oral medication, but be aware that these can interact with HIV medications and may produce side effects.
Do Not Self-Diagnose
Because yeast infections can share similarities with other infections seen in women with HIV, you should not self-diagnose.If you notice anything unusual about your vagina including discharge or odor, contact your doctor who will be able to discern if it is truly yeast or possibly something else.
Cause for Concern
HIV positive women who have developed AIDS will be more susceptible to Candida yeast infections that spread to the esophagus (esophageal candidiasis), mouth (oral candidiasis) and skin (cutaneous candidiasis). Be sure to maintain close communication with your doctor about the slightest change.
Maintaining Vaginal Health
Yeast and other infections can be common for HIV positive women, so it may be wise for you to make dietary changes to promote vaginal health.For example, cut back on sugars and starches and incorporate more soy products and a multivitamin. Also consider taking a probiotic or acidophilus supplement to maintain high levels of good bacteria.Don't wear clothing that constricts air flow to the vagina; opt for loose cotton materials.Do not douche or use products with chemicals that will change your vagina's pH level; these will upset the bacterial/fungal balance in the vagina.
Candida yeast infections are common, and 3 out of 4 women will experience at least one in their lifetime. Women with HIV have a slightly different recourse for dealing with their yeast infections, and may want to consider a safe and natural treatment for keeping your Candida yeast under control.