There are three stages of HIV infection and each may or may not have symptoms associated:
At stage 1, the bloodstream contains high levels of the virus. At this time, it can easily be passed to other people. Within 2 to 4 weeks of exposure, many people develop flu-like symptoms. Not everyone has these symptoms, however, and it is possible for HIV to progress without any indication that the virus is present in the body.
At stage 1, symptoms may include:
- muscle and joint aches and pains
- raised temperature
- ulcers in the mouth
- night sweats
- body rash
- sore throat
- swollen glands
It is important to seek medical help if these symptoms occur, especially if the individual believes they may have been exposed to the HIV virus. Early treatment can be effective in reducing the impact of HIV.
During stage 2, the virus is active but reproduces at very low levels. At this stage, there are usually no symptoms, or very mild ones. This is why stage 2 is also known as the “asymptomatic stage” and is considered the clinical latency period of HIV infection. Those who follow a treatment program may remain in this stage for many decades, possibly for the rest of their life, as drug therapy reduces viral activity. Without treatment, the clinical latency stage lasts around 10 years.
Stage 3 HIV is also known as AIDS, but AIDS is a different and separate diagnosis from HIV. HIV is a virus, but AIDS is a syndrome, with a range of features and symptoms.
Symptoms at this stage vary greatly, as they tend to be associated with various opportunistic infections. Some of the more common symptoms include: • blotches under the skin or in the mouth and nose
- blurred vision
- diarrhea lasting longer than 1 week
- swollen lymph glands
- constant tiredness
- fever that keeps coming back
- memory loss
- weight loss
- mouth, anus, or genital sores
Conditions that commonly develop at this stage include tuberculosis (TB), fungal infections of the respiratory system, lymphoma, hepatitis, and some types of cancer.