HIV Symptoms

HIV Symptoms: What are the Early Signs of HIV in Men and Women?

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Table of Contents

  1. What is HIV?
  2. Com­mon HIV Symptoms
    1. Acute Ill­ness
    2. Asymp­to­matic Period
    3. Advanced Infec­tion (End Stage HIVAIDS)
  3. Pre­ven­tion Tips, Low­er­ing Risk of Infection
  4. Con­clu­sion: Pre­vent­ing AIDS & Slow­ing HIV

What is HIV?

Oth­er­wise known as the Human Immun­od­e­fi­cien­cy Virus, the HIV virus attacks the body’s white blood cells, specif­i­cal­ly cells that pro­duce anti­bod­ies, and even­tu­al­ly turns them into virus pro­duc­ing cells instead of anti­body pro­duc­ing cells.

As the virus pro­gress­es, it will attack and even­tu­al­ly destroy the bod­ies’ CD4 cells’ (type of white blood cell). Once enough of the bod­ies’ CD4 cells are gone, it can no longer fight off infec­tions like it once could. This can lead to the final stage of HIV- AIDS (described below).

  • It can take any­where from a few months to many years (10+) for an infect­ed vic­tim to acquire full blown AIDS from HIV
  • If diag­nosed ear­ly and giv­en access to the advanced treat­ments of today’s antivi­ral ther­a­py, many HIV suf­fer­ers nev­er even acquire AIDS

Com­mon HIV Symptoms

Vary­ing from per­son to per­son, there is no exact, rigid out­line’ for symp­toms those with HIV could present, though there are gen­er­al pos­si­bil­i­ties in every case. That being said, HIV will fol­low a gen­er­al pat­tern in most cas­es, cov­ered under three main categories.

In gen­er­al, HIV dif­fers from many oth­er STDs because phys­i­cal symp­toms tend to be the same between men and women, with a few exceptions.

  • Men may get an ulcer on the penis. 
  • Hypog­o­nadism (pos­si­ble)- low pro­duc­tion of sex hor­mones in either men or women. 
    • Low testos­terone in men can lead to Erec­tile Dysfunction.

Acute Ill­ness

About 80% of HIV infect­ed peo­ple will go through flu-like symp­toms’ from about two to four weeks, (last­ing about 1 – 2 weeks) also called acute HIV infec­tion’. This is the pri­ma­ry stage of HIV, and will last until the patient’s body has cre­at­ed viral anti­bod­ies. The fol­low­ing four symp­toms will present in most cases:

  • Rash on body 
  • Fevers
  • Sore throat
  • Severe & exten­sive headaches

Less com­mon symp­toms could include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Lymph nodes swollen 
  • Ulcers in mouth or genitals 
  • Painful joints
  • Vom­it­ing, nausea 
  • Night Sweats
  • Painful, aching muscles

Asymp­to­matic Period

After ini­tial symp­toms even­tu­al­ly dis­ap­pear, patients might not show any oth­er symp­toms for a peri­od last­ing months to years. The actu­al virus is repli­cat­ing, begin­ning to weak­en the immune sys­tem dur­ing this stage. 

Patients prob­a­bly won’t look or even feel sick dur­ing this stage, seem­ing com­plete­ly healthy. Infect­ed vic­tims might think what­ev­er they had must have just gone away’, or they fought it off, and are fine.

See more: Anony­mous HIV Symp­tom Checker

All the while, it is extreme­ly easy to trans­fer the HIV virus to oth­ers, mak­ing this asymp­to­matic peri­od extra­or­di­nar­i­ly dan­ger­ous to those who don’t know what they have, and oth­ers they infect. Because these peo­ple prob­a­bly have no idea there is any­thing wrong, they aren’t going to real­ize extra pre­cau­tions need to be made.

Impor­tance of Ear­ly Testing 

    For the rea­sons stat­ed above, it is extreme­ly impor­tant any­one who thinks there may be a prob­lem, or any­one who have noticed some of the symp­toms of the acute stage list­ed above after unpro­tect­ed sex or oth­er con­tact with infect­ed indi­vid­u­als, get test­ed dur­ing the acute stage (get test­ed early).

    Advanced Infec­tion (End Stage HIVAIDS)

    Though it may take years, HIV will even­tu­al­ly weak­en a person’s immune sys­tem to the extreme, mak­ing it all but inef­fec­tive. They can eas­i­ly get sick, and might seem to be sick all of the time. Even what might be a minor cold to most peo­ple can turn into a huge, trau­mat­ic (even dead­ly) ordeal to these individuals.

    HIV has now pro­gressed to stage three, com­mon­ly referred to as AIDS (Acquired immun­od­e­fi­cien­cy syn­drome). This is the final stage of the dis­ease, and the worst. Not only can these peo­ple suf­fer from a great num­ber of infec­tions healthy peo­ple are nor­mal­ly able to eas­i­ly fight off (called oppor­tunis­tic infec­tions’, they might show the symp­toms below:

    • Nau­sea & vomiting
    • Per­sis­tent diarrhea
    • Rapid weight loss
    • Chron­ic (long term) fatigue
    • Short­ness of breath, per­sis­tent cough
    • Repet­i­tive night sweats, fever, chills
    • Lesions, rash­es or/​and sores around the gen­i­tals, mouth, nose, or under the skin
    • Neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders such as (but not lim­it­ed to) mem­o­ry loss or confusion
    • Even­tu­al death

    Remem­ber, it isn’t HIV, or the AIDS virus, that ulti­mate­ly kills some­one. They die because their immune sys­tem can no longer fight off infec­tions; it is that infec­tion that will kill them. HIV essen­tial­ly makes that indi­vid­ual weak­er so the it can. 

      Pre­ven­tion Tips, Low­er­ing Risk of Infection

      Although there have been two doc­u­ment­ed cas­es of infect­ed vic­tims recov­er­ing from HIV (and even those are ques­tioned by many), that is so rare as to be all but nonex­is­tent when com­pared to the mil­lions who have, and still are, suf­fer­ing from the dis­ease. If a patient becomes infect­ed with HIV, there is no known cure avail­able yet. The absolute best chances that per­son has to receive the best pos­si­ble treat­ment and con­tin­ue to live a long, healthy and nor­mal life is ear­ly detection.

      • Because unpro­tect­ed sex is the lead­ing vec­tor for trans­mis­sion, safe sex is the best pre­ven­tion method.
      • If pos­si­ble, try to know your partner’s sex­u­al history. 
      • Avoid ille­gal drug use requir­ing nee­dles, or avoid shar­ing nee­dles. Shar­ing dirty nee­dles is among the top vec­tors for STD transmission. 
      • Get test­ed regularly. 
      • Ask your health care provider about pre­ven­tion meth­ods dur­ing your next visit. 
      • Edu­cate your­self about HIV and AIDS

      Con­clu­sion: Pre­vent­ing AIDS & Slow­ing HIV

      Though today’s anti­retro­vi­ral ther­a­py’ doesn’t cure HIV, it can pre­vent the virus from repli­cat­ing. In oth­er words, it is like remov­ing all oxy­gen from a burn­ing build­ing. You aren’t get­ting rid of the fire in the build­ing direct­ly, but cut­ting off its fuel source so it can no longer burn. 

      In order for HIV to be effec­tive as a virus, and even­tu­al­ly turn into AIDS, it needs to be able to pro­duce more of itself. With ear­ly detec­tion and treat­ment, you’re stop­ping that from happening.

      As always, the ear­li­er the virus is detect­ed and treat­ment has begun, the high­er your qual­i­ty of life!

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