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HIV and Pelvic Inflammatory disease

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a condition caused by infection in the upper reproductive tract. If you’re aware of the symptoms and get treatment promptly for any sexually transmitted infections, it can be managed, but if left untreated it can cause infertility and be potentially life-threatening.

PID is caused by bacteria to the upper reproductive tract and can affect the:

  • fallopian tubes
  • uterus
  • ovaries
  • cervix
  • abdominal lining

Organs become inflamed and swollen. Scar tissue can develop as a result, causing infertility or the increased risk of a pregnancy that develops in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy). PID can also cause abscesses on the ovaries or fallopian tubes that are difficult to treat. It can be a serious and life-threatening condition.

Causes of PID

PID is caused by the spread of bacteria through the reproductive organs. It is usually the result of an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Because women do not always have STI symptoms, these infections often go unnoticed and untreated.

Symptoms of PID

If you have any symptom you think might be related to an untreated STI, see a doctor as soon as you can. Common symptoms of PID include the following:

  • burning or itching around the vagina
  • recurring tenderness in the abdomen or lower back
  • unusual vaginal discharge
  • irregular periods
  • bleeding or ‘spotting’ between periods
  • pain during urination or sex
  • fever

Treatment for PID

PID is usually treated with oral antibiotics, although if severe the infection may require you to be hospitalized. If you have abscesses that don’t clear up with treatment, surgery may be necessary.


Women with HIV are at an increased risk for recurring and difficult-to-treat PID. Make sure to see your doctor if you think you might have a STI. Even if you’re feeling well, get a Pap test on the schedule your doctor recommends. Paps save lives!

Preventing PID

Safer sex is your best bet for preventing sexually transmitted infections that can lead to PID. Because safer sex isn’t always possible, regular Pap tests are essential to diagnose and treat infections early.

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