Symptoms of AIDS

AIDS is the acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This is a condition that compromises the immune system. It is caused by exposure to the HIV virus. The HIV virus is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids containing the HIV virus. Such bodily fluids include seminal fluid, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluid, blood and mother’s milk. HIV anti-bodies can be found in saliva also. Some people who are exposed to the HIV virus do not ever develop the symptoms of AIDs. However, it is rare for an individual infected with the HIV virus to remain asymptomatic.

The symptoms of AIDS begin to appear as the result of the damaged immune system that a person infected with AIDS has. They symptoms of AIDS can vary depending on what part of the body immune system has lost control over. Certain health conditions can arise from bacteria, parasites, fungi and other viruses the person with AIDS has been exposed to. Symptoms of AIDs may not be evident immediately after the initial exposure to AIDS until two to four weeks later. Flu like symptom are usually the first to appear. The person may have a fever, muscle aches, headache, swollen lymph glands, sore throat and a rash. These symptoms usually last five to ten days and then clear up like other viral infections normally do. After the initial symptoms of AIDS the person can remain remain free of symptoms for up to 15 years. However, during this time the person can infect others with the AIDS virus.

In the beginning of the disease, the virus reproduces itself in the lymph nodes and will start breaking down T cells which play an important role in a healthy immune system. Healthy T cell levels are 500-1500. A person with T cells under 200 or less is diagnosed with AIDS. Once the immune system has been critically damaged the symptoms of AIDS develop and can include:

  • Swollen and tender lymph glands in the neck, armpits, groin
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough (not due to allergies or smoking)
  • Shortness of breath
  • On going and persistent diarrhea
  • Night sweats
  • Fever that comes and goes for no apparent reason
  • Purple spots on the skin, inside the mouth, anus or nasal passages
  • Thrush
  • Yeast infections
  • Mental deterioration, confusion, memory loss
  • Cancer, pneumonia and other auto immune diseases

The above are all full blown symptoms of AIDS and they can occur in as little times as one year after exposure or it can take as long as 15 years for these symptoms to appear. The person with AIDS is susceptible to certain diseases that contribute to the symptoms of AIDS.

A less serious form of AIDS is known as AIDS Related Complex (ARC). ARC is a condition where the individual tests positive for AIDS infection, but has less severe symptoms of AIDS. These symptoms are less severe because the damage to the immune system is not as severe as in a person who has full blown AIDS. These less severe symptoms of AIDS also include loss of appetite, fever, night sweats, tiredness, skin rash, diarrhea and swollen lymph nodes. The person also has a lowered resistance to infection.

All of the above symptoms can be symptoms of other conditions. For instance, if a person has cancer, it does not always mean that they developed it because they have AIDS. However, a person with AIDS is at more risk of developing certain types of cancers. If one has the above mentioned symptoms of AIDS for a long time they should go to their doctor and asked to be tested for AIDS. AIDS can only be positively diagnosed by laboratory testing. Blood tests, saliva tests and an initial urine test can be done to determine if the individual has AIDS.

Last updated on Dec 14th, 2009 and filed under Reproductive Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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