HIV Basics: Stages of HIV
You may not see HIV symptoms uniform in patients as it varies with individuals. In some cases, the patients do not show any symptoms for many years. With time, and without dedication to treatment, the immune system succumbs to the virus. Although there is no cure for HIV, the available medicine (antiretrovirals or ARVs) prevent it from advancing to AIDs. With the ARVs, individuals who were tested positive for the virus are able to live longer healthier lives as well as limit the chances of transmission and spread. The process involves 3 basic steps with varying effects.
Acute Primary Infection
Between one and four weeks after infection, some individuals may experience symptoms resembling the flu. This is obviously not a reliable method of determining whether you may be infected with HIV. It is advisable to always visit a doctor for testing whenever you feel exposed regardless of the symptoms. For those who test positive, symptoms proceed to fever, body rash, swollen glands, and sore throat. Other symptoms easily ignored are headaches, joint aches, and stomach aches.
As the body reacts to the virus for a few months, the foreign cells spread throughout the bloodstream. The immune system fights by producing HIV antibodies. HIV test may give different results at this point so it is advisable to visit the clinic regularly and use one type of test.
The Asymptomatic Stage
Here, the patient feels better after the first stage is complete. It may take between 10 and 15 years without any significant signs. This period depends on the age of the person and health. Behind the scenes, the cells are active, multiplying, replicating and infecting new cells. This process completely damages the immune system.
The Symptomatic HIV Infection
With significant damage to the immune system, the patient is vulnerable to serious infections, bacterial and fungal diseases. These infections are normally containable and easily fought off with an immune system that is intact. It is characterized by weight loss, chronic diarrhea, fever, cough, skin issues and regular infections.