The Role of Gender in HIV Progression

Ross G. Hewitt, MD; Nader Parsa, PhD; Lawrence Gugino, MD


AIDS Read. 2001;11(1) 

In This Article


There are many gender differences that could potentially affect HIV disease progression. Access to health care services or to antiretroviral medications may differ, as may the toxicity of antiretroviral drugs. Psychological factors, such as depression, may be different among HIV-infected men and women. Social and environmental factors, such as child rearing responsibilities, may interfere with the ability to access care and may affect disease progression. CD4 cell counts appear to be higher for women than for men who have the same degree of illness. In early stages of HIV disease, the level of HIV RNA in plasma appears to be lower but rises more quickly and eventually catches up to the levels for men in advanced stages of the disease.

Guidelines for initiation of antiretroviral therapy have been based on data derived primarily from men.[77] As the question of when to initiate antiretroviral therapy is addressed, gender-specific recommendations may be appropriate. Further studies are needed to better understand gender differences and the effects on HIV disease progression, treatment, and response.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: