Research suggests more than half (54%) of women with HIV are only diagnosed when the infection is progressing towards AIDS,
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) damages white blood cells in the immune system, preventing them from fighting off everyday infections, like fever and colds.
HIV is curable if caught early with 97% of those therapy being virally suppressed. This implies that they cannot pass the virus even if they have unprotected physical interaction.
Left untreated, however, HIV can develop into Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
This occurs when the immune system is so severely damaged by HIV, the patient is at risk of life-threatening infections and diseases.
While most women are told they have the infection late, patients in their forties were up to four times more likely to have a delay in their diagnosis than their younger counterparts.
Late diagnosis was defined as a specific immune cell count of less than 350 cells/mm³. Healthy levels are generally considered between 500 and 1,200 cells/mm³.
Having gone through the menopause, some also mistakenly believe they do not need to use protection.
Facts About HIV
HIV spreads via certain bodily fluids, including those in the female reproductive organ, semen, blood and breast milk, It cannot be transmitted via tears, sweat, faeces or urine.
These include fever, sore throat and a rash. Some also experience fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint pain.
It can take 10 years before the immune system is severely damaged enough to be diagnosed as AIDS.