How You Know If You Got Hiv – Clinically reviewed by Cameron White, M.D., MPH – By Ann Pietrangelo and Christine Cherney – Updated June 30, 2023
HIV destroys CD4 cells, which are responsible for keeping people healthy and protecting them from disease and infection. As HIV gradually weakens the body’s natural defenses, signs and symptoms may appear.
How You Know If You Got Hiv
HIV targets the types of cells that normally fight off an invader like HIV. As the virus replicates, it damages or destroys the infected CD4 cell and produces more virus to infect more CD4 cells. CD4 cells are also called T cells or helper cells.
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Without treatment, this cycle can continue until the immune system is severely compromised, leaving the person at risk of serious illness and infection.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV. At this stage, the immune system is severely weakened and the risk of opportunistic infections is very high.
However, not all people with HIV will develop AIDS. The sooner a person receives treatment, the better the outcome.
The immune system protects the body from incoming diseases and infections. White blood cells protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other organisms that can make a person sick.
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A few days after being exposed to the virus, a person with HIV can experience a flu-like illness that lasts for several weeks. This relates to the first stage of HIV, known as the acute infection stage or acute HIV.
A person with HIV may not have many severe symptoms during this stage, but they usually have large amounts of the virus in their blood because the virus replicates quickly.
The next stage is called the chronic infection stage. It can last from 10 to 15 years. An HIV positive person may or may not show signs or symptoms during this stage.
Kaposi’s sarcoma, another potential complication, is a cancer of the blood vessel walls. It is rare in the general population, but more common in people with advanced HIV.
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Symptoms include dark red or purple lesions in the mouth and on the skin. It can also cause problems with the lungs, digestive system, and other internal organs.
HIV and AIDS also increase a person’s risk of developing lymphomas. An early sign of lymphoma is swollen lymph nodes.
HIV makes it harder to fight respiratory problems like the common cold and flu. On the other hand, an HIV-positive person can develop related infections, such as pneumonia.
Without HIV treatment, advanced disease puts a person with HIV at increased risk of infectious complications, such as tuberculosis and a fungal infection called Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PJP).
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The risk of lung cancer is also increased with HIV. This is due to the weakness of the lungs due to many respiratory problems associated with a weak immune system.
People with HIV are more likely to develop high blood pressure. HIV also increases the risk of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is a form of high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. Over time, PAHs will stress the heart and can lead to heart failure.
TB is an airborne bacterium that affects the lungs. It is the leading cause of death in people with AIDS. Symptoms include chest pain and a bad cough that may contain blood or phlegm. The cough can last for months.
HIV affects the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections that can affect the digestive system.
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Problems with the digestive system can also reduce appetite and make it difficult to eat properly. As a result, weight loss is a common side effect of HIV.
A common infection associated with HIV is oral candidiasis, a fungal infection that causes inflammation and white patches on the tongue and inside the mouth.
Another viral infection that affects the mouth is oral hairy leukoplakia, which causes white lesions on the tongue.
Salmonella infections are transmitted through contaminated food or water and cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. anyone can get it
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These infections affect the bile ducts and intestines and can be particularly serious. It can cause chronic diarrhea in people with AIDS.
Although HIV usually infects nerve cells directly, it can also infect the cells that support and surround nerves in the brain and throughout the body.
Although the link between HIV and neurological damage is not fully understood, it is likely that infected accessory cells contribute to nerve damage.
Advanced HIV can cause nerve damage, also known as neuropathy. This often causes pain and numbness in the legs and arms.
A Cutaneous Clue To Hiv Infection
Small holes in the conducting sheath of peripheral nerve fibers can cause pain, weakness, and difficulty walking. This condition is known as vacuolar myelopathy.
AIDS has significant neurological complications. HIV and AIDS can cause HIV-related dementia, a condition that severely affects cognitive function.
Having a weakened immune system puts people with AIDS at greater risk of inflammation of the brain and spinal cord caused by this parasite. Symptoms include confusion, headache, and seizures. Some nervous system infections can also cause seizures.
In very advanced cases, hallucinations and overt psychosis may occur. Some people may also experience headaches, problems with balance or coordination, and vision problems.
Are Hives A Symptom Of Hiv?
A weak immune response makes a person more susceptible to viruses like herpes. Herpes can cause people to develop sores around the mouth or genitals.
HIV also increases a person’s risk of herpes. Reactivation of herpes zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox, causes shingles. This condition causes a painful rash, often with blisters.
A viral skin infection called molluscum contagiosum causes bumps to appear on the skin. Another condition called prurigo nodulares causes severely itchy, crusty bumps on the skin.
HIV can cause a variety of symptoms, from mild flu-like symptoms in the early stages to neurological symptoms if the condition progresses to AIDS.
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Many of the effects described above are related to ongoing damage to the immune system as HIV and AIDS progresses.
However, many of these effects can be prevented with antiretroviral treatment, which can maintain and improve the immune system.
A health professional may recommend additional treatments, such as blood pressure medications or skin creams, to treat the effects of HIV and AIDS on other body systems.
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How To Know If You Have Hiv: Early Signs, Risk Factors, Testing
Our experts constantly monitor the health and wellness space and we update our articles when new information becomes available. Clinically reviewed by Elizabeth Thottachery, MD — by Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA — updated January 6, 2023
HIV can affect anyone, and some symptoms may be different in women. In addition to flu-like symptoms and skin changes, a person may experience menstrual disorders, more frequent vaginal infections, and mood swings.
Transgender women surveyed in seven major US cities have HIV, with two-thirds of African American/Black transgender women and one-third of Latina transgender women reporting they are HIV positive.
Below, we describe the symptoms of HIV in women, how doctors diagnose the condition, and what treatment options are available.
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Race and gender exist on a spectrum. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to the sex assigned at birth. Click here to know more.
Within a few weeks of contracting HIV, the body undergoes a seroconversion, a period in which the virus multiplies rapidly.
These symptoms can resemble those of a cold or flu, so a person may not initially associate them with HIV.
After an acute HIV infection, the virus continues to multiply at a slow rate. A person may or may not have symptoms.
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Treatment can slow or stop the progress of the virus. Even without treatment, some people do not experience additional symptoms for a decade after the initial infection.
The neck may feel swollen under the jaw and behind the ears. The swelling can cause swallowing problems and can last from a few days to months.
If a person does not receive HIV treatment, the virus can cause nausea, diarrhea, malabsorption of food, and loss of appetite.
This can include depression, which can cause feelings of hopelessness and intense sadness. People can also experience stress and memory loss.
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Abnormal spots form on the skin. They can be red, pink, brown or purple in color. These rashes can appear inside the mouth, eyelids, or nose.
Some people with HIV who are menstruating notice lighter or heavier periods. If a person is experiencing rapid weight loss, they may also start to miss periods.
Additionally, hormonal fluctuations can cause menstrual symptoms, such as cramps, breast tenderness, and fatigue, to change or worsen.
It is important to note that menstrual changes are normal and not necessarily a sign of HIV. But if they are present with other symptoms, an HIV test may be needed.
Understanding The Early Signs & Symptoms Of Hiv
Although almost everyone with vaginitis has yeast infections from time to time, HIV can cause these infections to become more frequent.
When a person has HIV, their immune system uses a lot of energy to respond to the virus. As a result, they do not like their body.
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