The symptoms of HIV and AIDS

The first symptoms of an HIV infection can vary.
Most of the people who become infected with HIV get flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks. This flu-like disease is called an acute HIV infection. An acute HIV infection is the primary phase of HIV and continues until the body has developed antibodies against the virus.

The most common symptoms that may indicate a recent HIV infection:

  • Fever over several days
  • Limpness
  • Headache
  • Rash on the back, ribcage or abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Strong night sweat
  • Aching tonsils, swollen lymph nodes
  • Sores in the mouth

Less common symptoms can be:

  • ulcers in the mouth or genitals
  • muscle strain
  • joint pain
  • nausea and vomiting

These symptoms usually last one to two weeks. Persons who have these symptoms and think they have HIV can purchase an hiv self-test or visit a doctor.

After the first symptoms have disappeared, HIV can no longer cause symptoms for months or years. During this time the virus grows and weakens the immune system. A person at this stage does not feel ill, but the virus is still active. Infected individuals can easily transfer the virus to others. That is why early testing is so important for people who also feel good. The INSTI self-test allows you to be tested for HIV at an early stage. The earlier you know that you have HIV, the sooner you can be treated with HIV inhibitors that prevent AIDS. This is important for your own health, but it can also prevent you from infecting someone else.

How does AIDS actually develop?
Sometimes it may take a while, but HIV can eventually destroy the patient’s immune system. As the HIV infection progresses, CD4 cells are attacked and destroyed by the HIV virus, so that the body can no longer fight infections and diseases. When this happens, HIV is often referred to as AIDS (level 3). AIDS is the final stage of the disease. The time required for HIV to reach this stage may vary from a few months to 10 years, or even longer.

What are the symptoms of AIDS?
A person in the third and last phase of an HIV infection gets AIDS. This person has a severely damaged immune system, making them exposed to opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections are diseases that the body could normally fight against, but which can be harmful to people with an HIVinfection. People with an HIV infection find that they often have diarrhea, strong night sweat, aching tonsils, swollen lymph nodes.

You can also experience the following Phase 3 HIV symptoms:

  • nausea
  • throwing up
  • persistent diarrhea
  • chronic fatigue
  • fast weight loss
  • cough and shortness of breath
  • confusion or neurological disorders
  • Aching tonsils, swollen lymph nodes
  • Sores in the mouth

Not all HIV-infected people will reach the stage 3. An HIV infection can be controlled with medicines known as antiretroviral therapy. This drug combination is also called antiretroviral combination therapy (cART) or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
This kind of type of therapy can prevent the multiplication of the HIV-virus. Although it can usually stop the progression of an HIV-virus and improve the quality of life, the treatment is most effective if it is started at an early stage. That is why it is so important to test yourself for HIV as early as possible with an HIV self-test.

Prevent HIV infection
You can reduce the risk of HIV in 5 ways:

  1. Safe sex
  2. Regular testing for HIV and other STDs
  3. PrEP
  4. Use clean needles / syringes when injecting drugs
  5. In pregnancy tests for HIV and with positive results directly treat

5 ways:

  1. Safe sex, this implies:
    Use a condom for vaginal intercourse and anal sex.
    – Cleaning sex toys for use with another or with a new condom.

Note: HIV is a hidden disease. You cannot see it with yourself and others. This also applies to most STIs. If you (unknowingly) have an STD, you are more susceptible to other STDs and HIV. Only a STI and HIV self-test can confirm whether you and your partner are STI and HIV-free.

Advice on condom use:

  • Make sure you always have them within reach.
  • Check the expiration date. The expiry date is stated on the packaging.
  • Use only officially approved condoms, recognizable by the CE mark.
  • Never use two condoms over each other. That does not offer extra safety. On the contrary, they are rather broken.
  • Provide a well-fitting condom. Condoms are available in different sizes.
  • Put the condom in the right way. If a condom breaks down, it is usually because it is not sitting properly.
  • Be careful with teeth, nails and jewelry to prevent damage or cracks.
  • Always use extra lubricant for anal sex (butt fucking).
  • Also use with sex toys such as dildos, a condom.
  1. Regular testing for HIV and other STDs
    The only way to know for sure whether or not you have HIV or another STD is to have an HIV / STD test performed.
  1. Use clean needles / syringes when injecting drugs
    Drug users should not exchange their syringes. Thanks to this approach, the HIV epidemic among drug users has remained limited.
  1. Attention for pregnant women
    Pregnant women are tested for HIV. Women with HIV are treated so that their baby does not get HIV. In addition, babies whose mother has HIV do not have breastfeeding because the virus is then still transferable.
  1. PrEP
    PrEP is a pill that you can use to prevent you from contracting HIV. It is therefore an HIV prevention pill. PrEP is a safe and effective tool. That is scientifically proven. PrEP has been available for everyone in the US since 2012 and since 2016 also in France and Norway.

What are HIV symptoms specific to men / women?
Although men and women generally have similar symptoms for HIV, there are some symptoms that only affect women or men:

HIV symptoms for men
An specific HIV symptom that only occurs for men is a ulcer on the penis. An HIV infection can lead to hypogonadism or poor production of sex hormones in both men or woman. The effects of hypogonadism on men is easier to see than the effects on women of hypogonadism. The symptoms of low testosterone, an aspect of hypogonadism, may include erectile dysfunction (erectile dysfunction).

HIV symptoms for women
One of the symptoms women can get after HIV infection is changes in menstruation. A woman can bleed more easily or harder, periods can be absent or women can get severe PMS. Stress or other sexually transmitted diseases that are common in HIV can also cause these problems. But they can also affect the immune system and influence the hormones because of the effects of the virus.

Another HIV symptom for women is fungal infections. Yeasts are microscopic fungi that naturally live in the vagina. However, if a woman is infected with HIV, the fungi can become uncontrollable and cause vaginal yeast infections several times a year. Sometimes they are the first sign that the body is infected with the HIV virus. A fungal infection can cause the following symptoms:

Thick, white discharge from your vagina

  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when urinating
  • Burning the vagina or pain

Lower abdominal pain can also occur after HIV infection. They are among the signs of a pelvic inflammatory disease. This is the collective name for an infection of the uterus, ovaries and / or fallopian tubes. For some women, it is one of the first signs that they have HIV. Together with pelvic pain, pelvic inflammation can cause the following symptoms:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Fever
  • Irregular periods
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain in the upper abdomen

Related Post