How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv – How can you tell if you have HIV? “You can’t answer for symptoms if you have HIV. The only way to know for sure is to GET TESTED.” – HIV.gov
In 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people have a flu-like illness. This is the body’s natural response to HIV infection.
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These symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks. But some people have no symptoms at all in this early phase of HIV.
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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 an HIV test.
Request an HIV test for recent infection – Most HIV tests detect antibodies (proteins your body produces in reaction to HIV), not HIV itself. But once you are infected, it can take a few weeks for your body to produce it. There are other types of tests that can detect HIV infection early. Tell your doctor or clinic if you think you have recently been exposed to HIV, and ask if their tests can detect early infection.
Know your status-After being tested, make sure you learn the results of your test. If you are HIV-positive, see a doctor as soon as possible so that you can start treatment with HIV medicine. And be careful: when you are in the first stages of infection, you have a very high risk of transmitting HIV to the others. . It is important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission. If you are HIV negative, there are prevention options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that can help you stay negative.
At this stage, the virus is still multiplying, but at very low levels. People in this phase may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
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Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 to 15 years, but some go through this stage faster.
If you take HIV treatment every day, exactly as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and prevent transmission to others. But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. It is important to see your doctor regularly to check your level.
If you have HIV and you are not on HIV treatment, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system and you will progress to AIDS (
Each of these symptoms can also be related to other diseases. The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.
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Many of the severe symptoms and illnesses of HIV disease stem from opportunistic infections that occur because your body’s immune system is damaged. See your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. Medical Review by Cameron White, M.D., MPH – By Ann Pietrangelo and Kristeen Cherney – Updated June 30, 2023
HIV destroys CD4 cells, which are responsible for keeping people healthy and protecting them from disease and infection. As HIV gradually weakens the body’s natural defenses, signs and symptoms may occur.
HIV targets the types of cells that would normally fight an invader like HIV. When the virus replicates, it damages or destroys the infected CD4 cell and produces more virus to infect more CD4 cells. CD4 cells are also called T cells or helper cells.
Without treatment, this cycle can continue until the immune system is severely compromised, leaving a person at risk for serious illnesses and infections.
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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV. At this stage, the immune system is seriously weakened, and the risk of contracting opportunistic infections is much greater.
However, not everyone with HIV will develop AIDS. The sooner a person receives treatment, the better their outcome will be.
The immune system prevents the body from getting diseases and infections. White blood cells defend the body against viruses, bacteria and other organisms that can make a person sick.
Within days of exposure to the virus, a person with HIV can experience a flu-like illness that lasts for several weeks. This is associated with the first stage of HIV, which is called the acute infectious stage, or acute HIV.
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An HIV-positive person may not have many serious symptoms during this stage, but there are usually large amounts of virus in their blood, because the virus replicates quickly.
The next stage is called the stage of chronic infection. It can last up to 10 to 15 years. An HIV-positive person may or may not show signs or symptoms during this stage.
Kaposi’s sarcoma, another possible complication, is a cancer of the blood vessel walls. It is rare among the general population, but is more common in people with advanced HIV.
Symptoms include red or dark purple lesions on the mouth and skin. It can also cause problems in the lungs, digestive tract and other internal organs.
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HIV and AIDS also put a person at a higher risk for developing lymphomas. An early sign of lymphoma is swelling of the lymph nodes.
HIV makes it harder to fight respiratory problems like colds and flu. In turn, an HIV-positive person can develop related infections, such as pneumonia.
Without HIV treatment, advanced disease puts an HIV-positive person at even greater risk for infectious complications, such as tuberculosis and a fungal infection called pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PJP).
The risk of lung cancer also increases with HIV. This is due to weakened lungs due to various respiratory problems related to a weakened immune system.
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People with HIV are more likely to develop high blood pressure. HIV also increases the risk of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is a type of high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. Over time, PAH will strain the heart and can lead to heart failure.
TB is an airborne bacteria that affects the lungs. It is a leading cause of death in people who have AIDS. Symptoms include chest pain and a bad cough that may contain blood or mucus. The cough can persist for months.
Because HIV affects the immune system, it also makes the body more susceptible to infections that can affect the digestive system.
Problems with the digestive tract can also decrease appetite and make it difficult to eat well. As a result, weight loss is a common side effect of HIV.
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A common infection associated with HIV is oral thrush, which is a fungal infection that causes inflammation and white patches on the tongue and in the mouth.
Another viral infection that affects the mouth is oral hairy leukoplakia, which causes white lesions on the tongue.
Salmonella infection is transmitted through contaminated food or water, and causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and vomiting. Anyone can take it
This infection affects the bile ducts and intestines and can be particularly severe. It can cause chronic diarrhea in people with AIDS.
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While HIV generally does not directly infect nerve cells, it does infect cells that support and surround nerves in the heart and throughout the body.
While the link between HIV and neurological damage is not fully understood, it is likely that infected supporting cells contribute to nerve injury.
Advanced HIV can cause nerve damage, also known as neuropathy. This most often leads to pain and numbness in the feet and hands.
Small holes in the conduction pathways of peripheral nerve fibers can cause pain, weakness and difficulty walking. This condition is known as vacuolar myelopathy.
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There are serious neurological complications of AIDS. HIV and AIDS can cause HIV-related dementia, a condition that severely affects cognitive function.
Having a weakened immune system puts people with AIDS at increased risk for inflammation of the brain and spinal cord from this parasite. Symptoms include confusion, headache and seizures. Convulsions can also result from certain infections of the nervous system.
In very advanced cases, hallucinations and frank psychosis may occur. Some may also have headaches, balance or coordination problems, and vision problems.
A weakened immune response leaves a person more vulnerable to viruses like herpes. Herpes can cause people to develop sores around the mouth or genitals.
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HIV also increases a person’s risk for shingles. Reactivation of herpes zoster, the virus that gives people chicken pox, causes shingles. The condition causes a painful rash, often with blisters.
A viral skin infection called molluscum contagiosum involves a rash of bumps on the skin. Another condition called prurigo nodularis causes crusty bumps on the skin, and severe itching.
HIV can result in a variety of symptoms, from mild flu-like symptoms in the early stages to neurological symptoms if the condition progresses to AIDS.
Many of the effects described above are related to the immune system which is continuously compromised in the progression of HIV and AIDS.
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However, many of these effects are preventable with antiretroviral treatment, which can maintain and repair the immune system.
A healthcare professional may recommend additional treatments, such as blood pressure medication or skin creams, to treat the effects of HIV and AIDS on other body systems.
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