HIV is a virus that infects your immunity. The immune system is the human body’s natural defense system. When HIV invades a body, it destroys a special type of white blood cells called T-helper cells. These cells are also called CD4 cells.
When it destroys more and more CD4 cells and replicates itself, the natural immune system of the body is destroyed. If it is not treated, the immune system becomes so damaged that it may cause the death of a person.
For a timely diagnosis, it is necessary to understand HIV transmission and look for its symptoms. Early detection of HIV may help to control the viral spread and prevent its progression. It becomes most dangerous at stage three which is called AIDS.
Also read- Why don’t we have a vaccine for HIV?
Are there any early symptoms?
The early signs of HIV are not very obvious. Most of the times they look like flu symptoms. These signs include the following.
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Headache and body ache
- Body rashes
- Muscle and joint pain
- Mouth ulcers
The earliest signs of HIV arise within one or two months of viral transmission. The symptoms may show up within two weeks after exposure to the virus.
Furthermore, some people may not experience any symptoms at all. It is necessary to know that HIV symptoms may also look like some common diseases. For confirming HIV, it is necessary to follow HIV tests.
However, symptoms may now show for years. It doesn’t mean that there is no virus or it is killed by its own. The virus continues to replicate inside your body. But it is a manageable stage if diagnosed on time. Without symptoms, it may reach to stage-3 otherwise called AIDS. That’s why it is important to look for symptoms and in case of doubt, verification tests may help.
Also read- HIV Infection (AIDS)- A Silent Killer
Symptoms at stage 3
At stage-3 when it becomes AIDS, the common symptoms include the following.
- Extremely high fever
- Night sweating
- Body rashes
- Difficulty in breathing
- Extreme weight loss
- Sores in mouth and genital sores
- Fatigue and tiredness
How symptoms vary in every stage?
Depending upon the virus’s transmission phase, its symptoms vary. At the first phase, HIV is called acute or primary infection. It is also called retroviral syndrome. At this stage, the symptoms appear to be like a gastrointestinal or respiratory infection.
The next phase of viral infection is called clinical latency stage. At this stage, the virus is less active but it is still inside the body. There may not be any symptoms at as the virus progresses really slow. This stage may prolong for 10 years or more.
The final phase of HIV is its stage-3. At this stage, the immune system is severally damaged and the body is highly vulnerable to infections. Once the disease reaches at stage three, symptoms start to show up. Some of these symptoms are
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cognitive impairment
- Low immunity
At which stage this virus is transmittable?
HIV virus is able to transmit itself as soon as it reaches inside a body. At this phase, the blood of the infected person has HIV in it. This is the easiest way to transmit the disease.
Not everyone experiences early symptoms of HIV. Only a proper diagnostic test can confirm it. An early diagnosis will help to take control of the disease so that the proper treatment can be started as soon as possible. Only proper treatment can prevent an infected person to transmit it to others.
Usually, once a virus is transmitted it is not always the HIV virus that makes people ill. Many times it is the opportunities infections that show these symptoms.
Keeping in the regard that HIV targets the immune system, which makes a person weak. It makes all bacteria’s or viruses to attack the body and cause illness. People with no symptoms usually become symptomatic when the virus progresses.
The final word
It is important to go for an HIV test. A person who is living with HIV and not showing any symptom is also capable of transmitting the virus. All people who come in contact with an infected person through body fluids can catch this infection. The HIV treatments available these days can reduce the risk of viral transmission from an infected person to a healthy person.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antiretroviral therapy may help in viral suppression. When the viral load in an HIV positive person is undetectable, he can transmit the virus to others without even knowing it. The only way to check it is an HIV test.
There are many risk factors that may affect a person’s chance to get HIV. For example, one such risk factor is unsafe sex, without a condom. Also shared needles and unmonitored blood transfusing may increase the risk. For more details, feel free to contact your nearest healthcare provider.