Sign & Symptoms

Q.How can I tell if I’m infected with HIV? What are the symptoms?

Ans. The only way to determine for sure whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms at all for many years.

The following may be warning signs of infection with HIV:

  • rapid weight loss
  • dry cough
  • recurring fever or profuse night sweats
  • profound and unexplained fatigue
  • swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
  • white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat
  • pneumonia
  • red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders

However, no one should assume they are infected if they have any of these symptoms. Each of these symptoms can be related to other illnesses. Again, the only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

     Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an agent responsible for producing AIDS. AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

     Once HIV enters the human body, it attacks the white blood cells, which are responsible for co-ordinating the body’s defence mechanisms and protect the body from assaults of various infective organisms like bacteria, virus’s, fungi etc.

     After HIV enters the human body, the virus silently keeps on reproducing within our immune system engages the virus silently keeps on reproducing within our immune system engages the virus in a battle. The immune response is able to keep a check on the replication of the virus during the initial stage of HIV infection. During this period the person does not develop of any specific symptom or sign. This asymptomatic period can be as long as ten years in almost half the HIV inside the body to the development of any specific symptom is called the “incubation period”, also known as the “early stage of HIV disease”.

     There is a gradual reduction in the number of CD4 lymphocytes and after a certain period their counts reach a low level. This period is variable in different individuals. Generally symptoms start occurring when the absolute CD4 count reaches below 200 cells per cubic milliliter. Such a significant reduction the immune response (bodily resistance), reduces the ability of the body to suppress old infectious agents such as germs of tuberculosis which are lying dormant in the bodty. It also affects the immune response to infections of common and uncommon bacteria, viruses or fungi that he/she may be exposed to. These infections, which become apparent or develop only in the presence of weakened bodily resistance, are also called “opportunistic infections” and are likely to be severe in its manifestations. Thus, these individuals become an easy target for germs.

     When HIV start producing certain specific symptoms or signs of specific indicator diseases, the disease stage is called AIDS or “late stage HIV disease”. On an average an AIDS patient generally succumbs to opportunistic infections within a couple of years.


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