HIV is a virus that specifically impacts the CD4 cells present in the immune system. The CD4 cells’ function is to effectively safeguard the body from diseases. Hence, while it is true that our immune system fights off viruses, it does not happen with the HIV virus. As the symptoms of HIV vary from one person to another, one should have a basic knowledge of the general pattern that HIV follows:
Around 80% of people who contact the HIV virus go through symptoms similar to that of flu that too in the course of 2-3 weeks. This flu-like illness is called the acute HIV infection stage. This stage is the first HIV stage and ends only when the body has formed antibodies against the HIV virus.
The symptoms that you will commonly notice in the acute HIV infection stage are:
The most common ones:
- Sore throat
- Extreme headaches
- Body rash
The less common ones:
- Bloated lymph nodes
- Night Sweats
- Vomiting and nausea
- Joint pain
- Aching muscles
- Genital or mouth ulcers
These symptoms end only after a week or two. If you have the above symptoms, you should consider booking an appointment with your healthcare provider to find out whether you have HIV or not.
Symptoms peculiar to men
HIV symptoms are mostly the same in men and women. Only one symptom that is different is that of penis ulcers. HIV may be the reason behind hypogonadism or poor sex hormone productions in both the sexes. But, the effects of hypogonadism are more prominent in men than in women.
After the disappearance of the primary symptoms, HIV does not show symptoms for months, years even. As time progresses, the virus starts to make the immune system more and weaker by the process of replicating. Though the person during this time won’t look or feel sick, the virus is still very much active. This means that an easy transfer of the virus to others can happen. Hence, getting tested early is advised, even if one feels okay. Plus, timely HIV treatment is equally important in preventing the spread of the virus.
Although it takes some time, HIV may seize up a person’s immune system eventually. After this takes place, the HIV will make its way to Stage 3, which is sometimes called AIDS. AIDS is the culminating stage of the disease. At this point, the person’s immune system is gravely damaged, further making the person more prone to opportunistic infections.
Opportunistic infections are the infections that a person’s body could normally fight off, but if a person has HIV, these infections could cause a lot of harm. People having HIV may observe that they get functional infections, like flu and colds every now and then. They may also experience stage 3 HIV symptoms like:
- Chronic fatigue
- Constant diarrhea
- Quick weight loss
- Memory loss
- Neurological disorders
- Long-term swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, neck, or armpits
- Shortness of breath
- A cough
- Repetitive chills, night sweats, and fever
- Sores, lesions, rashes in the nose, mouth, under the skin or on the genitals
People who have shared needles, are sexually active or have noticed any of the HIV symptoms discussed above, should think about going for an HIV test after consulting with their healthcare provider. It is recommended that the people who have multiple partners have had sex with someone who has already contracted the HIV disease, or those that have used intravenous drugs should go for annual testing.
Testing is a process that is not at all complex and all it needs is a blood sample. Many clinics and health centers provide HIV tests. So, you can easily go for an HIV test and get HIV treatment in India.