AIDS and HIV Symptoms

Once the person is infected with HIV/AIDS, they may experience flu like symptoms which will go away after a while, just like any cold or flu. After this there may be no other symptoms or indications of an HIV infection even up to years.

AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is a condition that is caused by an infection of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There are many people who have been infected by HIV, however their condition has not developed into AIDS.

HIV and AIDS cause the immune of the person to fail, making them more susceptible to other diseases and conditions. A person is commonly infected with HIV by having unprotected sex of any kind, i.e. vaginal, anal, or oral, or by contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and even from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

Once the person is infected, they may experience flu like symptoms which will go away after a while, just like any cold or flu. After this there may be no other symptoms or indications of an HIV infection even up to years. However, over time the person’s immune system will weaken and male them much more susceptible to common infections like tuberculosis, as well as other infections and tumors that a healthy immune system would likely be able to repel.

The initial stages of the condition are referred to as an HIV infection, while the late symptoms of the infection are referred to as AIDS. There are three stages of HIV infection: acute infection (also known as primary infection), latency and AIDS.

  • Acute infection lasts for several weeks and may include symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, inflammation of the throat, rash, muscle pain, malaise, and mouth and esophageal sores. Less common symptoms include headache, nausea and vomiting, rash, fatigue, ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals, enlarged liver/spleen, weight loss, thrush, night sweats and diarrhea and neurological symptoms. The duration of these symptoms varies, averaging 28 days and usually lasting at least a week.
  • This is followed by the latency stage which involves few or no symptoms and can last anywhere from two weeks to twenty years or more. During this period, the person might have no reason to suspect they have HIV, but they can spread the virus to others.
  • AIDS, the final stage of HIV infection, is defined by low CD4+ T cell counts (fewer than 200 per microliter), various opportunistic infections, cancers and other conditions. This latter stage is often complicated by an infection of the lung known as pneumocystis pneumonia, severe weight loss, skin lesions caused by Kaposi's sarcoma, or other AIDS-defining conditions, such as shingles, non-hodgkins lymphoma, thrush, tuberculosis, and candida esophagitis.

One should get tested as soon as possible if they suspect that they may have been infected. One can have practically no symptoms, yet still have HIV. However, one should note that some HIV tests will not show a positive result for as long as 3 months after infection. This makes it more important that one should get help as soon as possible if they suspect an infection.

HIV/AIDS is even more dangerous because of the fact there is no known cure or vaccine for the condition. There are a number of vaccines in development, however none have yet been approved for patient use. There are ways to manage the condition though, such as antiretroviral treatment that now allow one to live a fairly less intrusive lifestyle. Still, getting treatment as early as possible is recommended. However, these are often quite expensive and have some side effects.

Image Courtesy: en.wikipedia.org

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