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A fungus is a kind of germ. Many fungi (plural form of fungus) exist normally in and on our bodies, and in the surrounding environment, for example in soil, dust, food, water, and plants. Most fungi are harmless to humans, but there are several that can cause harmful infections, especially in people living with HIV (HIV+).
Candidiasis is a very common fungal infection usually caused by Candida albicans. This yeast-like fungus is found in all healthy people. The immune system and bacteria normally found in the body generally keep Candida in check. When Candida is not kept in check, it can cause problems like yeast infections or thrush, which are described below.
When there is an overgrowth of Candida, it can cause problems in the mouth, food pipe (esophagus), or vagina. This happens more often when the immune system is weakened by HIV or when you take antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill helpful bacteria that keep Candida in check.
The medications used to fight Candida are anti-fungal drugs called "azoles." Examples are Nizoral (ketoconazole), Diflucan (fluconazole), Sporanox (itraconazole), Vfend (voriconazole), or Noxafil (posaconazole). Pregnant women should not take oral azoles (pills or liquids), as they may cause damage to the developing baby. Topical azoles used inside the vagina like Monistat (miconazole) or Gyne-Lotrimin (clotrimazole) creams, however, are safe for use during pregnancy. In addition, several of the anti-fungal drugs interact with specific HIV drugs such as the protease inhibitor Norvir (ritonavir) and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors such as Sustiva (efavirenz), Viramune (nevirapine), Edurant (rilpivirine), and Intelence (etravirine).
Candidiasis can come back repeatedly. Some health care providers prescribe anti-fungal drugs on a long-term basis, but this can lead to drug-resistant Candida that is more difficult to treat.
Candidiasis of the Vagina (Vaginal Candidiasis, Vaginitis, or Yeast Infection)
Candidiasis of the Mouth (Thrush)
Candidiasis of the Esophagus (Esophageal Candidiasis)
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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