HIV or Human Immunodeficiency virus is a Lent virus that depletes the human immune system. The immune system’s progressive failure paves way for other infections to thrive. The infection caused by HIV is transferred through semen, vaginal fluid, blood, and even breast milk. As early as 2-4 weeks and up to three months later, people who are infected with HIV experience acute illness as the body’s initial response to HIV infection. The early signs of HIV can be confusing because of the similarity of signs of other infections. Often times, the early signs of HIV are mistakenly associated with flu.
EARLY STAGE SYMPTOMS
FEVER - Fever is the most common early sign of people with HIV. This is the early stage of transmittal of the virus in the blood stream and at the same time, the virus starts to replicate at this stage. Though it is still hard to conclude that fever is a sign of HIV because fever is a common occurrence for someone who has a low level of immunity, frequent checking of temperature, fever interval, as well as full disclosure of history and physical examination provide relevant clues to the origin of the fever. Based on studies, people who are infected with HIV had fever that lasted for more than a week.
FATIGUE - Sudden and unexplained fatigue is also one of the early signs of HIV. HIV targets the immune system and fatigue is one of the signs that immunity is already at an alarming level. What used to be just a usual activity with an infected person now becomes an exhausting one. The lack of energy to do even the simplest things is a clear indication of fatigue. Even taking a rest, sleeping in long hours, and drawing back from heavy and tedious activities cannot make the fatigue go away. This may also lead to muscle weakness, numbness, and other physical malfunction that may cause heart, lung, endocrine, and nervous system to fail. Fatigue also has an effect on mental ability and the person may have difficulty in concentration, calculation, and even in remembering things.
SWOLLEN LYMPH NODES - Lymph nodes are small, round-like organs of the immune system distributed in the human body. One of the most common early signs of HIV is lymphadenopathy. When a person has lymphadenopathy, his lymph nodes in the neck, arm, and groin are swollen. The most common cause of swollen lymph node is infection and it appears close to the area where the infection thrives. For instance, a sore throat causes a swollen node in the neck and a wound in the leg causes the node in the groin area to swell. Whist swelling of the nodes has been just due to lymph fluids, which gathered foreign substance in the body and is retained in the nodes, persistent swelling of nodes can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Swollen nodes that will not decrease in size over long periods need to be seen by a doctor for further medical evaluation.
RASHES – Appearance of rashes is also one of the early signs of HIV. Lack of immunity in the system makes it easy for rashes and other skin disorders to thrive. Rash in the skin looks scaly and has a close resemblance to psoriasis, whilst there are also bump-like brown colour type of rashes. These rashes appear in the hands, face, feet, and genital region. Though rashes appear in the early stage of HIV and are visible shortly after HIV is acquired, there are also cases wherein the rashes appear in late stage of HIV.
The above mentioned early symptoms of HIV usually disappear in a short period of time that is why it is always mistaken as symptoms of something else, as a viral infection for instance. The early warnings of HIV are extremely common and “treated” right away after proper medication is given. Unfortunately, even if the symptoms are gone, the person with HIV continuously gets infected day after day. Due to the confusing early signs of HIV, one may not even think he has it, until such time a more severe symptom surfaces during the late stages.
LATE STAGE SYMPTOMS
LOSS OF WEIGHT – Loss of weight is likely to happen to someone whose immune system is severely damaged. Even if loads of food are taken, there is no way a person with HIV escapes weight loss.
YEAST INFECTION - Thrush, a mouth infection caused by yeast called Candida, is common in the late stages of HIV. Thrush is a common fungus that causes yeast infection in women. Thrush appears in the mouth of the oesophagus and the patient usually has a hard time swallowing even the tiniest piece of food. Other parts of the mouth are eventually affected like the tongue, gums, and lips. It can be very bothersome and looks unpleasant.
GENITAL HERPES - Oral herpes and genital herpes are signs of HIV infection in late stages. Aside from being a symptom, it can also be a cause of HIV. Genital herpes can lead to ulcer creating an easy access for HIV to enter during intercourse.
WEAKNESS AND TINGLING OF THE MUSCLE – Numbness of the hands and feet and other parts of the body is called peripheral neuropathy. This is a severe symptom of HIV and is felt in the late stages. This symptom is a clear indication that aside from the immune system, the nervous system is already heavily damaged. This often results to muscle ache and over-the-counter drugs can combat the pain.
The best way to not acquire HIV is to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercising daily and eating the right and healthy diet must be part of the everyday routine. Most importantly, avoid multiple partners, always have the protection during intercourse, and use a new syringe for intravenous drugs and medications. HIV is very tricky. A person who has it may not even know he has acquired it until severe symptoms of later stages appear. The best move is to consult the doctor at once if there is a suspicion of HIV.