HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus typically affects the immune system of the body rendering it vulnerable to other diseases. HIV enters the system through sexual intercourse with someone carrying the virus.
Doctors believe that one of the ways to prevent contracting HIV is through the use of condoms during sex but the use of condoms do not completely eliminate the transmission of the virus.
It is important to get regular HIV testing and screening for other sexually transmitted diseases and infections. That is the only way to determine if you have been exposed to the virus. Early detection of HIV infection especially the FDA-approved HIV RNA test, helps in the management of the disease as there is currently no cure for HIV and AIDS.
Like other STDs, HIV manifests several symptoms once it becomes active in the body.
Symptoms of HIV/AIDS
A person infected with HIV/AIDS usually shows several symptoms depending on the stage of the infection. Following exposure to the virus, the infected person will experience what doctors call “acute retroviral syndrome”. This is the early or incubation stage when the body is exposed to the virus. Though the body cannot completely eliminate the virus, it will attempt to fight the virus at this early stage.
Early symptoms of HIV
- Weight loss
- Fever and night sweats
- Lymph node enlargement
- Yeast infections
- Persistent skin rashes
During early HIV infection stage, most patients may have flu-like symptoms. Since flu symptoms may sometimes be common, most patients may not feel the need to see a doctor or get tested for HIV and STD. This gives the virus time to establish itself in the body.
Second stage HIV infection
After the initial exposure to the disease, HIV establishes equilibrium with the body that allows it to propagate without the body attempting to eliminate it. At this stage the person feels relatively well without adverse consequences which gives the disease the time to attack organs of the body.
Without adequate treatment, the disease will gradually weaken and overtake the body’s immune system rendering it incapable of fighting common diseases and infections. It does this by destroying the body’s infection fighting cells and other defense mechanisms.
HIV becomes AIDS
Once the immune system has been weakened, HIV progresses to AIDS and renders the body vulnerable to other illnesses and diseases that easily destroy every organ. At this point the person is said to “have AIDS” and may show the following symptoms.
- Fever and vision loss
- Dry cough and shortness of breath
- Diarrhea that lasts longer than one week
- Painful swallowing
- White spots or blemishes around the mouth
- Pneumonia or pneumonia-like symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps
- Various cancers
- Coma, seizures and lack of coordination
- Depression or memory loss and confusion
- Red, pink, brown or purple blotches on or under the skin, inside the mouth, eyelid or nose
Get tested today at local STD testing centers. Regular HIV testing is the best way to know if you are HIV positive or not.