What is HIV? Symptoms and Early Signs Of HIV

What is HIV?

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that after entering the human body damages the immune system and can lead to AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS leads to death over time. However, HIV and AIDS are two different things. In the absence of adequate treatment, it takes about 10 years for HIV to develop AIDS. However, treatment slows the damage to the immune system and infected person may stay healthy for decades without developing AIDS.

What is HIV? Symptoms and Early Signs Of HIV

What is HIV? Symptoms and Early Signs Of HIV

How HIV Virus Spreads

HIV virus spreads through sex (vaginal or anal). The chances of HIV transmission through oral sex is low. You can also get HIV from sharing syringes or needles. It may be acquired via transfusion of infected blood. Mother to child transmission happens during pregnancy while giving birth or breastfeeding.

Does HIV Has a Cure

After HIV virus enters your body, 40 to 90% of the infected patients develop flu-like symptoms that is termed as an acute retroviral syndrome (ARS). However, in some, the HIV symptoms may not appear for even years or even decades after the infection. Once the HIV enters your body, it stays lifelong. It cannot be cured but with certain medications, you can stay healthy and also the medicines lowers or stops the spread of the virus from one person to another. This is why it is very important HIV be detected early.

HIV Symptoms

Mostly during the early stages of infection, there is no symptom. This is the reason one in five HIV infected do not know that they have HIV. It is very important that HIV is diagnosed to prevent its spread especially through unprotected sex and so it is very important to get tested for HIV.

Below are a few signs of HIV-positive

Signs of HIV-Positive

  1. Fever – One of the first sign is mild fever to 102 degrees F, whichis mostly accompanied by other mild symptoms such as swollen lymph glands, sore throat or fatigue. This is the phase when the virus moves in the bloodstream and starts to replicate in a large number to which our immune system has an inflammatory reaction.
  2. Fatigue – The inflammatory reaction that is generated in response to our body’s immune system makes you feel lethargic and tired. Fatigue is both early and late symptom of HIV.
  3. Swollen lymph nodes, pain in joints and achy muscles – Lymph nodes are a part of the body’s immune system and when there is infection it tends to get inflamed. Other ARS symptoms include achy muscles and pain in joints and this is why it is often mistaken as common flu.
  4. Headache and Sore Throat – Sore throat and headache are common ARS symptoms.
  5. Skin Rash – Both in the early or late stage of HIV or AIDS skin rash may develop. If rashes you have developed do not a response to treatment easily or cannot be explained better have an HIV test.
  6. Diarrhoea, Nausea, Vomiting – About 30 to 60 % HIV positive report short-term nausea, vomiting and even diarrhoea in an early stage. However, these symptoms may also appear later or because of antiretroviral therapy.Diarrhoea is usually unremitting and not responding to therapy.
  7. Weight Loss- Weight loss even after eating well is usually a sign of advancing illness. However, if you have already lost weight it is suggestive that your immune system is fairly depleted.
  8. Night sweat – Half of HIV positive in the early stage of infection experience night sweat. In later stages, this symptom is even more common.
  9. Dry Cough- An insidious cough that does not resoles in weeks or responds well to treatment is a typical sign of HIV patient.
  10. Genital herpes or cold Sores – Both can be a sign or both late HIV or ARS.

In later stages, there may be significant weight loss, vaginal infections, and menstrual irregularities, changes in nail, confusion and concentration difficulties. Also due to poor immune system, one may develop opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia etc.

Dear reader’s prevention is best to prevent HIV but if recently you have engaged yourself in high-risk behaviour like sharing needles or having sex without condom better get tested for HIV. HIV is much infectious in its early stage. If the test is positive, you can take necessary steps to prevent its spread and early treatment will keep you healthy for longer and prevent it from developing into AIDS.

Reference Links:

  1. https://www.hiv.gov/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.html
  3. https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/19/45/hiv-aids–the-basics

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