What is HIV/AIDS? 175
Diarrhea: Diarrhea may come and go and can be hard to cure.
The most common causes of diarrhea in persons with AIDS are
infections or the side effects of some medicines.
Skin rashes and itching: It is often difficult to know what causes
skin rashes and itching. Some of the skin problems related to HIV/
AIDS can be caused by:
• allergic reactions to medicines.
• brown or purple patches on the mouth or skin, caused by a cancer
of the blood vessels or lymph nodes called Kaposi’s sarcoma.
• herpes zoster (shingles), which usually begins as a painful rash
with blisters that break open. It is most common on the face, back
Nausea and vomiting: This can be caused by infections, some
medicines, problems with the stomach and intestines, or the HIV
Cough: This can be a sign of lung problems, such
as pneumonia or tuberculosis (TB). The lungs make
more mucus when they are irritated or infected, which
Tuberculosis is a serious infection caused by a germ
that usually affects the lungs. The signs of AIDS and
TB are similar, but they are different diseases. Most
women, men and children with TB do not have AIDS.
But someone with AIDS can get TB very easily because
the person’s body is too weak to fight it. For 1 of every
3 people who dies from AIDS, it is TB that actually
Problems with the mouth and throat: The problems can include: soreness, cracks,
sores and blisters, and white patches on the tongue (thrush, see page 260).
Weight loss and malnutrition: A person with AIDS can become malnourished
from constantly being sick, from diarrhea that prevents the body from absorbing
the nutrients in food, from loss of appetite, and from mouth infections that make
eating difficult. Weight loss is so common in people with HIV that in some areas of
Africa, AIDS is called “slim disease.”
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007