Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

HIV is a viral disease that fights the body’s immune system and makes it weaker to the point that it will be unable to fight off infection and harmful organisms. The symptoms of HIV and how the disease progresses vary from person to person; thus, it is hard to give generalized symptoms that apply to every infected individual. But then, HIV has three distinct phases.

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First Phase of HIV

This stage occurs about four to six weeks after getting infected, and it causes Mononucleosis-like Symptoms. It is the primary phase of the infection, and at this phase, the human body is preparing the immune system for a response against the virus. This is why the symptoms at this stage are similar to the symptoms of flu or mononucleosis. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Sore throat
  • Red rash on the upper body (does not itch)

This stage lasts for a week or two, after which the asymptomatic phase follows. This is the second phase during which the infected person may not experience any symptoms, and at this point, a regular test for HIV is advised.

Second Phase of HIV

This is known as the latent clinical period or the asymptomatic period. This period lasts from some months to many years up to a decade. At this phase, the virus works on damaging the white blood cells in the immune system, which eventually makes the body unable to resist any infection and malignant changes to the cells. When the number of white blood cells of type T-helper cells reduces, the third stage of HIV known as AIDS is ushered in.

Third and Final Stage of HIV – AIDS

At this stage, the virus would have damaged the immune system completely, and any infection can be fatal for the infected person. Some of the common symptoms of this stage of the disease include;

  • Constant fatigue
  • Having a fever for almost two weeks.
  • Sweating at nights.
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes on the groin and neck.
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Severe diarrhoea
  • Infections in the vagina, throat or mouth.

There are also some illnesses that only affect people living with AIDS and those who have weak immune systems. Some of them are;

  • Pneumocystis: This is a type of pneumonia caused by fungus Pneumocystis jivoreci. It is a fungal infection peculiar to people living with AIDS.
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma: This is common in children living with virus HSV-8. It is a kind of skin cancer, and it causes small purple spots all over the skin.
  • Toxoplasmosis: This is a parasitic infection that attacks the heart, brain, retina and lungs. It is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondi and causes ailments like weakness of the muscle, fever, epileptic seizures, blindness, dizziness, headaches, confusion and fatigue. This parasite is present in a lot of people, but it is being kept in check by the immune system. The moment the immune system is unable to hold it anymore, it will be activated.