Living with HIV can increase a person’s chances of developing candidiasis, an infection caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus.
That Candida Fungus usually lives on the body without causing any problems. However, if it gets out of control, it can lead to candidiasis.
Although anyone can develop candidiasis, people with HIV are at a higher risk of developing this type of infection.
This article provides an overview of the connection between candidiasis and HIV. It also deals with the treatment of candidiasis infections that develop in the penis and vagina, mouth, throat and esophagus.
Candidiasis is an opportunistic fungal infection. If allowed to thrive, the fungus will spiral out of control.
It is reported that candidiasis affecting the mucous membranes of the body a
It is important to remember that vulvovaginal candidiasis can develop in healthy individuals with no underlying disease.
Also, people with untreated or uncontrolled HIV levels can develop esophageal and oropharyngeal candidiasis when CD4 levels fall. CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that help fight infection.
According to a 2018 study, oropharyngeal candidiasis may indicate the presence of undiagnosed HIV or HIV progression.
The study also noted that this type of infection can occur months to years before more serious opportunistic infections associated with HIV appear.
There are different types of candidiasis.
Oral, oropharyngeal and oesophageal
Esophageal candidiasis is a fungal infection in the tube that connects the throat to the stomach. It is one of the most common infections affecting people with HIV. However, highly active antiretroviral therapy
According to NAM, a UK charity, oral candidiasis is most likely to occur when a person has a low CD4 count.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs notes that healthcare professionals use a CD4 count to determine how well the immune system is functioning in people infected with HIV.
Symptoms of candidiasis of the mouth and throat include:
The white plaques can develop in the following places:
- inner cheeks
A person may also experience pain and difficulty swallowing if they have developed esophageal candidiasis.
Vaginal and penis
HIV can increase the likelihood of vaginal or penile candidiasis.
Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include:
Although penile candidiasis may not have any symptoms, a person may experience:
These symptoms can often occur in healthy individuals. They are not necessarily an indicator of HIV infection.
To treat candidiasis, a person can take antifungal drugs. This may include one fluconazole tablet.
There is a developing resistance of Candida Animal species to fluconazole as a result of repeated or prolonged exposure. There are also Candida Species that have inherent resistance to this class of drugs.
In these cases, a doctor may prescribe other antifungal medications.
The CDC recommends topical clotrimazole, miconazole, or nystatin for
For vaginal candidiasis, a person may use antifungal medications in the form of a pessary or topical ointment. Topical ointments can also treat penile candidiasis.
For more severe cases of candidiasis, a doctor may give antifungal medications intravenously or in a pill form.
When diagnosing candidiasis consult a doctor
- Check a person’s medical history
- conduct a physical exam
- check symptoms
- Order blood tests or take a sample from the affected area
In some cases, a doctor can make a diagnosis just by observing the affected area. They can also start treatment with antifungal drugs to confirm the diagnosis in certain cases.
HIV.gov notes that Candida albicans is the most common type of yeast that causes candidiasis. It’s also naturally present on multiple surfaces of the human body, meaning it’s impossible to prevent exposure to the fungus.
Although regular use of fluconazole can help prevent candidiasis, it is not recommended by healthcare professionals. This is due to the success of acute therapy, the low risk of infection, and the possibility of drug-resistant candidiasis.
The recommended form of prevention is restoration of immune function through treatments such as antiretroviral therapy. People can also benefit from good oral hygiene to prevent oral candidiasis.
To prevent vaginal or penile candidiasis, a person can:
- Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing
- Wash the penis or vagina with water and an emollient cream instead of soap
- Dry the area well after washing
People should avoid:
- take a shower
- vaginal deodorants
- perfumed shower gels and soaps
In most cases, candidiasis is easy to treat and responds to antifungal drugs such as fluconazole. The infection is generally not life-threatening and is not likely to result in comorbidities.
A person living with HIV should contact a doctor if they experience symptoms.
A person should speak to a doctor if they experience any symptoms related to candidiasis of the mouth or throat. These can indicate an underlying health condition that is affecting their ability to fight off infection.
A person with HIV should also speak to a doctor if they develop candidiasis of the mouth or throat, as this could indicate that HIV is progressing or getting worse.
Vaginal or penile candidiasis may not indicate underlying health concerns. However, a person should still seek medical advice, particularly if symptoms are not resolved with over-the-counter (OTC) treatment.
While a person can manage symptoms with OTC medications, a doctor should confirm the infection. Persistent symptoms
Candidiasis is a fungal infection that can occur anywhere but commonly occurs in the penis and vagina, mouth, throat, and esophagus.
In most cases, the infection occurs due to a fungal overgrowth that lives naturally on or in the human body. In people living with HIV, the overgrowth can occur because of a compromised immune response, which could indicate the presence or progression of HIV.
A person can take antifungal medications to treat candidiasis. To prevent future infections and keep the immune system functioning properly, people should continue to take their HIV medication.