Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (cont.)
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) facts
- What is the human immunodeficiency virus?
- What is the history of HIV?
- What causes an HIV infection?
- What are the different stages of an HIV infection?
- What are risk factors for an HIV infection?
- What are HIV infection symptoms and signs?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose an HIV infection? What are the different types of HIV tests?
- What is the treatment for an HIV infection?
- What are complications of an HIV infection?
- What is the prognosis of an HIV infection?
- Is it possible to prevent the transmission of HIV?
- What research is being done on HIV?
- Are support groups available for people who are HIV positive?
- Where can people find more information on HIV?
- HIV-AIDS Rxlist FAQs
- Find a local Infectious Disease Specialist in your town
What are HIV infection symptoms and signs?
As described above, although some people have no symptoms in the early weeks after acquiring HIV, between one-third and one-half will experience symptoms of fatigue, achiness, sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes, and loss of appetite. Mouth symptoms might include thrush or mouth sores. Fever, neck stiffness, headache, and rash may occur. Symptoms in women may include recurrent vaginal yeast infections. This acute retroviral illness (ARS) usually starts one to six weeks after infection and lasts approximately two weeks. Some people experience ARS as long as three months after initial infection. During this time, the blood is teeming with HIV and the CD4 lymphocyte count is reduced, creating susceptibility to unusual infections. Antibodies against the virus are beginning to form, the viral set point is established, and the infected person becomes asymptomatic, although some may have persistent moderately enlarged lymph nodes. As disease advances, other conditions may appear. Although not specific to HIV, symptoms in women may include recurrent vaginal yeast infections, and symptoms in men who have receptive anal sex may include severe or recurrent herpes infections. Mouth problems might include thrush or oral hairy leukoplakia, which is due to infection with the Epstein-Barr virus.
If patients are not treated, they progress to stage 3 in approximately 10 years. Patients in stage 3 have immune systems that are so impaired that they create susceptibility to unusual infections or cancers. These AIDS-defining conditions are listed above. Symptoms depend on the type of infection or cancer that is acquired. For example, patients with pneumonia may have shortness of breath and cough or wheezing. Occasionally, HIV may cause an AIDS-defining condition directly through intense infection of the brain, which causes confusion and encephalopathy.
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