Symptoms and Stages of HIV Infection
There are three stages of HIV infection.
- Stage 1 after the first infection may feel like the flu – but not everyone will hear it.
- Stage 2 is when most people start to feel better and can stay for ten years or more. At this point, the person may not have any symptoms.
- Stage 3 is a person’s immune system is severely damaged and can no longer fight off serious illnesses and diseases.
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When a person is diagnosed with HIV early and starts treatment, their health will improve over time.
Without antiretroviral drugs, the virus replicates itself in the body and causes serious damage to the immune system.
This is why it is important to start treatment as soon as possible after being diagnosed.
Stage 1: The primary infection
The first symptoms of HIV can feel like the flu.
About one to four weeks after becoming infected with HIV, you may begin to experience flu-like symptoms.
These usually do not last long (a week or two).
You can only get some of the symptoms and some people have no symptoms at all.
Symbols can include:
- fever (elevated temperature)
- Sore throat
- swollen glands
- stomach ache
- joint pain
- muscle pain.
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These symptoms occur because your body responds to HIV.
HIV-infected cells circulate throughout your bloodstream.
The timing varies but if you have HIV it can take your body a few months to go through the transition process for diabetes.
Having these symptoms alone does not mean that you are HIV positive.
HIV will not always appear in the first phase of the test, and you may need to test again later to confirm your results (find out more about the ‘windows period’).
Your healthcare professional will talk to you during your test and answer any concerns.
It is important not to forget to talk to a health worker if you are worried about HIV.
Condoms are the best way to protect yourself and your partner if you have sex, especially if you think you are at risk of HIV.
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Stage 2: Asymptomatic stage
Once a person has gone through a stage of basic infection and the process of reversing the disease, they can begin to feel better.
HIV will not cause any other symptoms until 10 or 15 years of age (depending on age, background, and general health).
However, the virus is still active, infecting new cells and making their copies.
Left untreated, over time, HIV infection will cause serious damage to the immune system.
Stage 3: Symptomatic HIV infection
With the third stage of HIV infection, a person’s immune system is severely damaged.
At this point, they are more likely to get diseases or serious illnesses that the body will be able to fight off.
Symbols can include:
- weight loss
- chronic diarrhea
- night sweats
- persistent cough
- oral and skin problems
- common diseases
- illness or serious illness.
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What is AIDS?
When a person develops opportunistic infections or illnesses – due to immune damage from the third stage of HIV infection – they will say to have AIDS.
If you have advanced HIV (with symptoms that describe AIDS), it is important to get the right treatment as soon as possible.
With treatment, a person can recover from AIDS-related illnesses and infections and then control HIV.
The sooner you will diagnose with HIV and start treatment, the better your health will be.
You can avoid getting opportunistic infections and stage 3 HIV, by sticking to antiretroviral treatment and taking care of your health.
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