Early Signs & Sypmtoms of HIV
The early symptoms of HIV infection are so non-specific that a person may think they have flu or a bout of glandular fever. Swollen glands, tiredness and fever could be put down to any number of things.
An infected person may get headaches, a sore throat, aching muscles, vomiting, nausea or diarrhea. These are all symptoms of HIV but can also be due to a number of common viral infections as well.
It’s important to remember that not everybody gets these signs and symptoms. If they do, they usually appear around three to six weeks after being infected. Then after a couple of weeks, thanks to the immune system kicking in, the symptoms normally disappear. The virus itself won’t show up in the blood for between three and six months and by then the infected person may have no symptoms at all and HIV may not even be thought about.
When the body is attacked by HIV it starts to fight back and after the initial flurry of non specific symptoms the virus enters a chronic stage – usually about six months after a person is infected.
Then the real battle commences. For many people there won’t be any more signs or symptoms for about 10 years as the body’s own natural defenses try to hold the virus at bay. Eventually though the virus will have gained such a stranglehold on the immune system that it gradually deteriorates and begins to kill off all the body’s infection fighting white blood cells. It’s at this stage that the disease really begins to progress and symptoms become far more frequent as the infection breaks down the body’s resistance.
Lymph glands in the neck or groin may swell and weight loss can be severe. Some people may have unexplained diarrhea for more than a month and yeast infections of the throat, vagina and mouth are quite common.
The tiredness can be overwhelming as the body tries desperately to fight the infection and there may be frequent rashes.
HIV gives way to AIDS
When the immune system becomes so devastated that it can no longer fight, the infections become far more frequent and new ones develop. It is at this point that that a person is diagnosed with full blown AIDS.
In many developing countries, the progression from initial infection to full blown AIDS is a lot quicker because of inadequate healthcare and poor nutrition.
Medically, the sooner a person knows they have the HIV infection, the better. They can be started on anti HIV medication to help control the symptoms and delay the onset of AIDS.
It’s easy to panic when reading the list of HIV symptoms. But it’s important to remember that these symptoms could be caused by any number of illnesses so a person shouldn’t automatically assume that just because they are displaying one or more of these symptoms, they are infected with HIV.
The only way to find out for certain is to be tested.