Symptoms and Stages of HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system. It’s an infection that approximately 1.2 million people in the U.S. are currently living with. In fact, about 14 percent of people don’t even know they have it and still need to be tested. It’s critical that people experiencing symptoms of HIV or pose one of the risk factors get tested. You can learn more about the symptoms by researching online.

There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments that can improve one’s quality of life and prevent spreading it to others. Search online to find out how this disease can be managed.

Signs and Symptoms of HIV

Within two to four weeks after infection, it’s possible for people with HIV to experience flu-like symptoms. Symptoms may include fever, chills, rash, night sweats, and sore throat. This is the first stage of HIV called Acute HIV Infection.

Some of other symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

Symptoms can vary from person to person. It’s also possible for people to not feel sick at all after getting infected. Though the longer someone goes untreated, the likelier the infection will progress into a later stage.

Stages of HIV

Untreated cases of HIV can progress through different stages. That’s why early diagnosis is critical in slowly or preventing progression of the disease.

Here are the three stages of HIV

Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection

This is where flu-like symptoms can be experienced around two to four weeks after infection. Symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks, but it’s also possible for people not to experience symptoms.

Since flu-like symptoms can be related to a lot of illnesses, it’s possible they are not related to HIV. You should see a doctor either way to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Stage 2: Clinical Latency

At this point, it’s possible for people to still not experience symptoms and even feel better after experiencing flu-like symptoms. Clinical Latency, also known as chronic HIV infection, is when the virus multiplies at low levels. People without treatment could remain in this stage for 10 to 15 years.

Patients must take HIV medicine everyday to keep an undetectable viral load. This will not only protect your health, but minimize the risk of transmitting HIV to sexual partners. HIV patients with a detectable viral load can transmit HIV even without experiencing symptoms.

Stage 3: AIDS

A person with untreated HIV will eventually reach the third stage. This is because the virus will weaken your body’s immune system, leading to the last stage of infection called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). It can take eight to 10 years for HIV to turn into AIDS.

Symptoms of AIDS can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Persistent cough
  • Mouth and skin problems
  • Regular infections
  • Serious illness or disease
  • Unexplained tiredness

These symptoms can occur from opportunistic infections, meaning it happens because your body’s immune system has been damaged. Each of these symptoms can also be related to other illnesses, so getting tested is crucial in finding out whether it’s related to HIV or AIDS.

Risk Factors

Since HIV symptoms commonly appear in other illnesses, it’s important for people to know whether they’re at risk of it being HIV. Anyone can get HIV regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, or age.

Gay and bisexual men have largest number of new diagnoses in the U.S. Those who are disproportionately affected by HIV compared to other ethnic groups are Black and Hispanic people. Some risky behaviors associated with spreading or contracting HIV include unsafe sex, sharing syringes or needles, and not taking medicine to prevent or treat HIV.

Living in a community where many people have HIV increases the chances of having sex or sharing injection equipment with someone who has HIV. The prevalence varies from place to place, but there are resources online that can tell you the percentage of people with HIV in different communities.

Learn More About HIV Online

HIV is a serious infection that has no cure. While people may experience symptoms, the only way to know whether it’s HIV is to get tested. The good news is better antiviral treatments available in the U.S. have prevented most HIV infections from turning into AIDS.

If you’re diagnosed with HIV, it’s important to regularly check in with your healthcare provider to get your viral load checked. This will prevent you from spreading HIV to sexual partners. You can discover more resources about preventing, treating, and lowering risk of HIV by searching online.

Chelsea Dolan

Chelsea Dolan

Chelsea is a staff writer for Qool Media. She does her best at balancing her sugar addiction by going to the gym, parking far away from store entrances, and standing at her work desk from time to time.