AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is a disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It attacks the immune system and weakens it considerably, to the point that any trivial infection can become fatal. AIDS is transmitted through blood transfusions, sexual intercourse, and from mother to her baby. What are the symptoms of AIDS?
One to two months after infection of the body with HIV, 40-90% of people have symptoms that resemble flu, so called Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS). But sometimes the virus shows no symptoms for years and even decades after it enters the body. “During the early stages of infection, the body usually gives no sign of presence of HIV,” said Dr. Michael Horberg, director of HIV / AIDS for Permanente ad research scientist at the Division of research in Oakland, California.
In USA, 50.000 people with HIV don’t know they have it, hence the importance of regular testing, especially if the person has unprotected sex with multiple partners or if taking intravenous drugs.
Here are the symptoms that may indicate that you are HIV positive
One of the first signs of the ARS may be slightly elevated temperature, which reached 101 ° F. It is usually accompanied by other symptoms such innocuous as fatigue, swollen lymph glands and a sore throat.
“At this stage, the virus travels to the bloodstream and begins to multiply,” says Dr. Carlos Malvestutto, Professor of Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Department of Medicine at New York School of Medicine. “When this happens, it is because there is an induced inflammatory immune response.”
Inflammation generated by the beleaguered immune system can also cause tiredness and lethargy. Fatigue can be both early and late sign of HIV infection.
Muscle and joint pain
The ARS is often confused with flu, mononucleosis or another viral infection such as syphilis or hepatitis. This is due to the similarity of symptoms such as muscle and joint pain, and swollen lymph glands. The lymph nodes, part of the immune system, tend to be ignited in case of infection. They are generally located in the armpits, groin and neck.
Headaches and sore throat, and dry cough
Headache, sore throat and dry cough may also be symptoms of the ARS. If conventional treatments fail to overcome your pain and you had risky behavior in the past, testing would be a good idea.
Rashes can occur in the first as in the later stages of infection. Another sign indicating that someone is not suffering from allergies or the common cold. “The rash may also appear on the trunk, and if they are not easily explained or treated, an HIV test is needed,” said Dr. Horberg.
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
“30 to 60% of HIV-positive people suffer, during the early stages of their illness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea,” says Dr. Malvestutto. These symptoms can also occur due to antiretroviral therapy, or in an advanced stage of the disease, usually because of an opportunistic infection. According to Dr. Horberg, “diarrhea that does not go away and does not respond to any form of treatment may be a sign of this disease.”
Weight loss is a sign of an advanced state of infection, and can be caused by severe diarrhea. According to Dr. Malvestutto, “if you are losing weight, it means that your immune system is depleted enough.” According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a person who suffers from weight loss syndrome is the one that loses 10% or more of its weight and suffered from diarrhea, weakness or fever for more than 30 days.
Half of people with AIDS suffer from night sweats during the early stages of the disease. They are more common during the advanced stages, heavy and difficult to cure. They resemble, in a way, hot flashes experienced by women during menopause.
Change in nails
Advanced infection may also impact the state of the nails. They tend to thicken and curl, or to crumble and fade. Black or brown horizontal or vertical lines may appear. They are usually caused by fungal infections, favored by a weak immune system.
Thrush is a fungal infection, another characteristic of advanced phases of the disease. It is caused by Candida, and usually affects the mouth and esophagus, causing pain when swallowing. The infection is usually difficult to remove but it can be treated if the patient starts taking drugs used to fight HIV.
Oral or genital herpes
Herpes, whether oral or genital, can both be a sign of the ARS and an advanced HIV infection. It is also a contamination risk factor. The genital herpes can cause ulcers that facilitate the entry of the virus into the body during sex. People with AIDS tend to suffer most often herpes eruptions because it weakens their immune system.
Tingling and weakness
Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage, resulting in numbness and tingling in hands and feet, a sign of the progress of the disease. It also occurs in people with uncontrolled diabetes. These symptoms can be relieved by analgesics or anticonvulsants.