Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can develop into a life threatening condition.
It works by damaging your immune system, which in turn can seriously trouble your immune system into battling infections and diseases.
HIV is normally contracted by being in close contact with someone who already has the virus – often through the transmission of bodily fluids, unprotected sexual contact or sharing needles, which is common with drug users.
Another way the virus can be transmitted is through the mother whilst pregnant or through breastfeeding.
However the virus is contracted, it’s important that we understand what the main symptoms of the virus are – so we’ve written this helpful guide to help you know what signs to look out for. Read on to learn more.
HIV Symptoms And Development
HIV progresses, especially when no treatment is sought out for the virus. To understand the symptoms, it’s best that we go through the stages of the virus and explain what you may notice.
Acute HIV (Primary Infection)
Within two to four weeks after the virus has been contracted by a person, many people will exhibit some flu-like symptoms which could potentially last for several weeks.
This is known as acute HIV and can present itself through the following symptoms:
- Fever or high temperature
- Muscle pains and aches
- A sore throat
- A rash that won’t go away
- Join pains
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Swollen lymph glands, especially near the neck
- A painful cough or recurring cough
- Night sweats
- Unexplained weight loss
It’s important to note that these symptoms during this stage can be so incredibly mild that many people may not even notice them.
However, if the virus is not noticed and treatment is sought – the virus can quickly develop into the next stage.
Chronic HIV (Clinical Latent Infection)
This is the stage of HIV infection when the virus is highly present in the white blood cells and in the body generally.
This stage of the infection can also be symptomless and can last for several years.
Over time and even with treatment, it’s possible for the virus to develop into the next stage.
Symptomatic HIV Infection
During the progression of the HIV virus, your immune cells are becoming more and more damaged and the development of the virus continues as the virus cells multiply.
At this point, you may start to show some of the following symptoms from mild infection to chronic signs of infections:
- Fever and high temperature
- Severe fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
- Swollen lymph glands and swollen lymph nodes
- Oral infection (thrush)
- Pneumonia symptoms
Once the virus has reached this stage, it can quickly progress into the next stage – especially if no treatment has been sought out. The next stage is stage three.
HIV Stage 3 (AIDS)
Deaths from AIDS have significantly reduced over the years due to the development of treatments, further research and more knowledge of the condition.
Luckily, due to these factors – many people with HIV do not develop AIDS, however some still do. This can be due to the fact the person has no knowledge that they have the virus and show no symptoms.
If someone does not seek out medical treatment when they contract HIV (see also ‘Best HIV Medication & Recommended Treatments‘), within eight to ten years, they can develop AIDS. This is now when the body’s immune system has been severely damaged.
At this point, you are very likely to develop other diseases or illnesses that your body would usually have been able to fend off. These illnesses are usually referred to as opportunistic infections.
Some of the symptoms at this time can include the following:
- The chills
- Fever that keeps coming back or does not go away
- Chronic diarrhea
- Extreme fatigue and weakness
- Significant weight loss
- Strange white spots on your tongue
- Skin rashes that do not go away
- Swollen lymph glands
See A Doctor
If you suspect you may have contracted HIV, it’s critical that you seek out medical advice as soon as possible.
It’s important that you are as open and honest with your doctor as possible as they can provide the right advice for you.
Additionally, if you have any of the above symptoms anyway – you should seek medical advice as it can be a sign of numerous health conditions.
What Causes HIV?
HIV is caused by a virus – normally down to sexual intercourse, sharing needles, close contact with the infected through blood or saliva, or the mother with their child.
In some cases, blood transfusions have been performed and lead to the contraction of the HIV virus with patients.
How AIDS Develops
AIDS is usually confirmed by doctors when the CD4 T-cell count falls below 200. This is normally after around ten years of having the HIV virus untreated.
Doctors may also diagnose someone with AIDS if they have a complication which can define AIDS such as a very serious infection or cancer.
How HIV Does NOT Spread
Due to many misconceptions, it’s important that we inform you of how HIV does not spread.
We know some of the main causes as shown in this guide, but below are some of the myths. The virus cannot be spread by:
- Normal skin contact (hugging, hand shakes etc.)
- Bug bites
Who Is At Risk Of HIV?
Anybody can contract HIV, but there are some high-risk groups. These include the following:
- People with STIs
- People who have unprotected sex
- Drug users
- Those with a weakened immune system already
The Bottom Line
HIV can progress and show lots of different symptoms throughout its cycle. It’s important that you know these symptoms and what to look out for.
If you, or someone you know is showing any of these symptoms or suspects they may have somehow contracted HIV – it’s critical that you seek out medical advice as soon as possible.