There are three stages to HIV infection. It becomes worse without therapy over time and eventually overwhelms your immune system. Your symptoms will vary depending on where you are in the process.
Image Source: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html
The first stage consists of: Symptoms of an Acute HIV Infection
Most people don't realize they've been infected with HIV until it's too late. They may, however, develop symptoms 2 to 6 weeks after contracting the virus. This is when your immune system goes on the offensive. Acute retroviral syndrome, often known as primary HIV infection, is the name given to this condition.
The symptoms are similar to those of other viral infections, and the flu is frequently used as a comparison. They usually last a week or two before disappearing. Among the first indicators of HIV infection are:
Lymph nodes swollen
A non-itchy red rash that commonly appears on your torso.
Ulcers (sores) in your mouth, throat, anus, or genitals caused by a fever
Other neurological symptoms such as headaches
If you have any of these symptoms and believe you may have come into touch with someone who has HIV in the last 2 to 6 weeks, see a doctor and get an HIV test. If you don't have any symptoms but suspect you've been exposed to the virus, get tested.
For two reasons, early testing is critical. First, HIV levels in your blood and bodily fluids are extremely high at this point. It's highly contagious as a result of this. Second, beginning treatment as soon as possible may help to strengthen your immune system and alleviate your symptoms.
Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, is a mix of medications that can help you fight HIV, keep your immune system strong, and prevent you from spreading the infection. Your HIV infection is unlikely to worsen if you take these meds and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Clinical Latency Symptoms (Second Stage)
The flu-like symptoms will go away after your immune system loses the struggle against HIV. However, there is a great deal going on inside your body. This is referred to as the asymptomatic period or chronic HIV infection by doctors.
CD4 T cells are cells that help your immune system coordinate its response. Untreated HIV will kill CD4 cells and damage your immune system during this stage. Blood tests can tell your doctor how many of these cells you have. If you don't get treatment, your CD4 cell count will drop, and you'll be more susceptible to infection.
The majority of persons do not have visible or palpable symptoms. You may be unaware that you're infected with HIV and potentially spread it to others.
If you're on ART, you could be stuck in this stage for decades. You can spread the infection to others, although this is extremely unlikely if you take your medications.
AIDS Symptoms in the Third Stage
AIDS is a severe form of HIV infection. When your CD4 T-cell count falls below 200, your immune system is severely compromised. You could get an opportunistic infection, which occurs more frequently and is more severe in those with compromised immune systems. Some of these are also considered "AIDS-defining disorders," such as Kaposi's sarcoma (a type of skin cancer) and pneumocystis pneumonia (a lung disease).
If you weren't aware that you were HIV-positive before, you may become aware after experiencing some of the following symptoms:
Constantly feeling tired
Lymph nodes in your neck or groin that are swollen
Fever lasting more than ten days
Sweats at night
Weight loss for no apparent cause
Purplish blemishes on your skin that refuse to disappear
Diarrhea that is severe and lasts a long time
Infections with yeast in your mouth, throat, or vaginal area
You can't explain your bruises or bleeding.
Memory loss, confusion, balance issues, behavioral abnormalities, seizures, and vision alterations are all neurological symptoms.
Without medicine, people with AIDS live for roughly three years, or fewer if they contract another virus. HIV, on the other hand, can still be treated at this point. You can live a long time if you start taking HIV medications, stay on them, follow your doctor's advice, and maintain healthy habits.
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