HIV Symptoms

What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.
If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Once people get HIV, they have it for a lifetime. There is currently no effective cure. However with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People living with HIV who receive effective HIV treatment can live long and healthy lives and protect their partners.

HIV 1 and 2

There are two main types of HIV:

HIV 1, which was first discovered, is the most common type in the world. HIV 2 is more common in West Africa and increasingly common in India, although the numbers are still relatively small. Small numbers of cases were also observed in Portugal, France, and other European countries, including the UK and America, mainly in people of West African origin or their sexual partners. HIV 2 is genetically more than 55% different from HIV 1.

Each major virus type can be divided into groups, which in turn can be divided into clades or subtypes. HIV 1 includes groups M (main), O (outlier), and N (non-m or O). There are two main subtypes of HIV 2, A and B. Because of genetic differences, the antigens of HIV 1 and HIV 2 are so different that a diagnostic test designed only to detect HIV 1 will not detect HIV 2 properly. However, there are tests that are sensitive to both types of viruses like the One-Minute INSTI HIV Self-Test. If a person has clinical signs of HIV infection (e.g., recurrent opportunistic infections) but does not test positive with a test that is only sensitive to HIV 1, a specific test for HIV 2 would be appropriate.

Anti-HIV drugs of the class of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are not effective against HIV 2. These include efavirenz, rilpivirine, doravirine, etravirine, and nevirapine. Treatment regimens based on an integrase inhibitor or a protease inhibitor are recommended.

Symptoms of HIV

HIV symptoms in men are generally the same in women. A symptom of HIV that only occurs in men is an ulcer on the penis. HIV can cause hypogonadism or poor production of sex hormones in either sex. The effects of hypogonadism are easier to observe in men than in women. Symptoms of low testosterone, an aspect of hypogonadism, can include erectile dysfunction (ED).

There are some signs that only appear in women, often in the later stages of the infection: Changes in your period, lower belly pain, vaginal yeast infections.

HIV Early Symptoms – Stage 1: acute infection

The first symptoms of HIV will happen within 2 to 4 weeks of being infected with HIV; around two-thirds of people will develop a flu-like illness. This is the body’s natural response to HIV infection. Flu-like symptoms can include:

• Fever
• Chills
• Rash
• Night sweats
• Muscle pain
• Sore throat
• Fatigue
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Mouth ulcers

These symptoms can last a few days to several weeks, but some people do not have symptoms at this early stage of HIV infection.

Don’t assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptoms; they can be similar to those caused by other diseases. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get tested for HIV.

At this stage, the virus is still multiplying, but at a very low level. People at this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also known as chronic HIV infection. Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this phase for 10-15 years, but some get through this phase faster.

By taking HIV medication exactly as directed each day and achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and not be at risk of passing HIV to your sexual partner). But if you have a detectable viral load, you can transmit HIV at this stage even if you don’t have any symptoms. It is important to see your doctor regularly to check your viral load.

Stage 3: AIDS

If you have HIV and are not treated for HIV, the virus will eventually weaken your body’s immune system and develop into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).This is the final stage of HIV infection. AIDS symptoms can include:

• Rapid weight loss
• Recurring fever or heavy night sweats
• Extreme and unexplained tiredness
• Prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, groin or neck
• Diarrhea that lasts for more than a year Week
• Sores in the mouth, anus or genital area
• Pneumonia
• Red, brown, pink or purple spots on or under the skin or in the mouth, nose or eyelids
• Memory loss, depression, etc. 

Any of these symptoms can also be associated with related to other diseases. The only way to be sure if you have HIV is to get tested. If you are HIV positive, a doctor will use certain medical criteria to diagnose whether your HIV has reached stage 3 (AIDS).
Many of the serious symptoms and conditions in HIV disease are due to opportunistic infections, which occur because your body’s immune system has been damaged. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.