What To Look For
Whether caused by an HIV medication or by HIV itself, the rash typically appears as a red, flattened area on the skin thats usually covered with small red bumps.
A main symptom of the rash is itchiness. It can show up on any part of the body, but it most often occurs on the face and chest, and sometimes on the feet and hands. It can also cause mouth ulcers.
Read Also: What Does Exposed To Hiv Mean
Can Stds Be Cured
STDs can be cured if you get diagnosed and treated at the right time by the right time we mean, even more, the symptoms tend to show up. Bacteria causing STDs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can be cured completely with the right antibiotics. If you are tested positive for STDs your physician may assess the severity of the infection along with your symptoms and prescribe you medicines. It is important to continue your medications for the full course as some people stop mid-way seeing the symptoms disappear which is not advisable. Even if your symptoms disappear, the bacteria is still surviving in your body and needs to be terminated fully. Also, your physician may recommend avoiding having intimacy until you are completely cured and then practice sex with only your marital partner as monogamy reduces the risks of STDs.
However, some types of STDs are not curable yet. The virus causing STDs such as HIV, Herpes, and HPV is one of the highly contagious that can lead to multiple yet severe health complications if not addressed in the early stages. The virus causing STD symptoms can be suppressed with anti-retroviral drugs which helps slow down the activity of the virus and heal the symptoms. However, the invaded STD virus is still present in your anatomy and you are to live with it lifelong.
What Needs To Be Done
While many might suggest that it’s the doctor’s role to diagnose, it’s important that the patients participate by volunteering, fully and honestly, any practice that may have placed them at high risk of HIV. It’s so perfectly reasonable to request an HIV test, which the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends for all Americans age 15-65 as part of a routine doctor’s visit.
Doctors and clinic staff should also be appraised of these guidelines and make it a practice to suggest HIV testing of their patients, particularly in communities with high HIV prevalence.
Don’t Miss: How Soon Can You Test For Hiv
Symptom : Fatigue And Headache
The inflammatory response generated by your besieged immune system can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. Sometimes it can make you feel winded while walking or generally feel out of breath. Fatigue can be both an early and later symptom of HIV.
There are several things that can cause a person to feel fatigued, so pay attention to your body and your lifestyle to see if you can draw a conclusion. If your fatigue persists, seek advice from your doctor.
What Is Acute Hiv Syndrome
Acute HIV syndrome is the body’s reaction to a new HIV infection, presents with symptom similar to that of flu or mononucleosis. It occurs in anywhere from 30-50% of newly infected individuals, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
The symptoms are the result of the body’s aggressive activation of immune defense, in which pro-inflammatory enzymes and agents are produced as immune cells fight to neutralizing the viral invaders.
While it is understandable that a person might miss these signs when sitting in a doctor’s office, there are occasionally clues that might suggest this is something more serious. Among them:
- Recent high-risk sexual activity
- Recent shared injecting drug use
While none of these factors are in and of themselves a direct indication of HIV infection, they most certainly warrant closer investigation and diagnosis.
Don’t Miss: Is It Possible To Transmit Hiv When Undetectable
Abdomen Lower Back Or Joint Pain
Pain in your abdomen may be a sign of a chlamydial or gonorrheal infection that has progressed. Late-stage chlamydia and gonorrhea can infect the pelvis and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease . If left untreated, PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility, tubo-ovarian abscess, and/or ectopic pregnancy.
Pain in your lower back may be a sign of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes prodrome. Herpes prodrome is a physical pain that typically means a herpes breakout is about to occur. The pain can be located in your lower back, thighs, butt knees, or feet. Herpes prodrome also indicates a time when youre most susceptible to spreading the virus. But even though you may not be exhibiting herpes lesions, youre still at risk of spreading the virus.
Joint Pain can mean that Hepatitis B, syphilis, or HIV have infiltrated your body and have gone untreated or may be, a symptom of gonorrhea or chlamydia. When gonorrhea or chlamydia begin to cause joint pain, its called Gonococcal Arthritis or Venereal Arthritis. This reactive arthritis occurs when gonorrhea or chlamydia go undetected and the bacteria infects one or multiple joints. If left untreated, this arthritis can lead to chronic joint pain, chronic joint inflammation, permanent joint damage, and/or deformity.
Days To 20 Years After Exposure
The chronic stage of infection occurs once the immune system brings the virus under control. During this phase, HIV will go into hiding, where it resides in various cells and tissues throughout the body in a dormant state known as latency. HIV latency can persist without symptoms for 10 years or more, although some people may experience signs within a year or two.
During the early chronic phase, lymphadenopathy may be the only notable sign of an HIV infection. In some cases, the glands may be visibly enlarged and reach up to an inch or more in size. If the condition persists for more than three months, its referred to as persistent generalized lymphadenopathy .
Even during latency, the virus will multiple imperceptibly and gradually deplete immune cells known as CD4 T-cells. As immune deficiency develops, a number of nonspecific symptoms are likely to appear, including:
- Oral candidiasis , a fungal infection that causes the formation of creamy, white lesions on the sides of the tongue and lining of the mouth
- Unexplained fevers and drenching night sweats that soak through bedsheets and nightclothes
- Severe, uncontrolled diarrhea that lasts for more than three days
Each of these symptoms is commonly seen in persons with immune deficiency. They may, in some cases, be caused by HIV itself or by an infection that has yet to be diagnosed.
Read Also: How To Tell If I Have Hiv
Early Symptoms In Primary Hiv
The first noticeable stage is primary HIV infection. This stage is also called acute retroviral syndrome , or acute HIV infection. Because HIV infection at this stage usually causes flu-like symptoms, its possible for someone in this stage to think their symptoms are due to a severe flu rather than HIV. Fever is the most common symptom.
Other symptoms include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , primary HIV symptoms may show up two to four weeks after initial exposure. Symptoms can continue for up to several weeks. However, some people may exhibit the symptoms only for a few days.
People with early HIV sometimes dont show any symptoms, yet they can still transmit the virus to others. This is attributed to the fast, unrestrained viral replication that occurs in the early weeks after contracting the virus.
What Is The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
The term AIDS refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. Most of the conditions affecting people with AIDS are opportunistic infections that generally do not affect healthy people. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe and sometimes fatal because the immune system is so ravaged by HIV that the body cannot fight off the infection. Symptoms of opportunistic infections common in people with AIDS include:
- coughing and shortness of breath
- seizures and lack of coordination
- difficult or painful swallowing
- severe headaches
People with AIDS also are particularly prone to developing various cancers. These cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS.
Don’t Miss: How Can You Prevent The Spread Of Hiv
How Is Hiv Diagnosed
HIV is diagnosed with either a test of your blood or your spit . You can take a test at home, in a healthcare providers office or at a location that provides testing in your community.
If your test comes back negative, no further testing is required if:
- You havent had a possible exposure in the previous three months before testing with any kind of test.
- You havent had a possible exposure within the window period for a test done with a blood draw.
If you have had a possible exposure within three months of testing, you should consider retesting to confirm the negative result.
If your test comes back positive, the lab may do follow-up tests to confirm the result.
Flu & People Living With Hiv
People with HIV are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications.
Human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . HIV attacks cells in the bodys immune system called CD4 cells and, if untreated, gradually destroys the bodys ability to fight infection and certain cancers. CDC estimates that about 1.1 million people in the United States aged 13 years and older were living with HIV at the end of 2016, the most recent year for which this information is available.
People with HIV are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications, especially those who have a very low CD4 cell count or who are not taking medicine to treat HIV . Studies done before routine use of antiretroviral therapy suggested an increased risk for heart- and lung-related hospitalizations in people with HIVexternal icon during flu season as opposed to other times of the year. Other studies have indicated that flu symptoms might be prolonged and the risk of flu-related complications and prolonged flu virus sheddingexternal icon is higher for certain people living with HIV.
This page addresses recommendations related to flu shots for people with HIV and the use of influenza antiviral drugs in people living with HIV.
Read Also: Can You Get Hiv Without Ejaculation
What Does Hiv Do To A Person
HIV infects white blood cells of your immune system called CD4 cells, or helper T cells. It destroys CD4 cells, causing your white blood cell count to drop. This leaves you with an immune system that cant fight off infections, even those that wouldnt normally make you sick.
HIV initially makes you feel sick with flu-like symptoms. Then it can hide in your body for a long time without causing noticeable symptoms. During that time, it slowly destroys your T-cells. When your T-cells get very low or you begin to get certain illnesses that people with healthy immune systems dont get, HIV has progressed to AIDS.
AIDS can cause rapid weight loss, extreme tiredness, mouth or genital ulcers, fevers, night sweats and skin discolorations. Other illnesses and cancers often happen in people living with AIDS and can cause additional symptoms.
Whats a retrovirus?
A retrovirus is a virus that works backward from the way human cells do. Human cells have instructions that send a message to make building blocks for your body .
Retroviruses have their instructions written on RNA. When a retrovirus invades your cells, it changes its RNA to look like your cells instructions . Then it cuts your cells DNA and inserts its instructions into them. Your cell then acts as though the virus instructions are its own.
Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can live and long and healthy life and will not transmit HIV to your HIV-negative partners through sex.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
You May Like: How Is Hiv Spread In Africa
When Do Symptoms Occur
Some people have flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks after infection, but others may not feel sick or not develop symptoms at all until later.
See a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of HIV and think you may have been exposed to HIV. Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know for sure.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly through having anal or vaginal sex or sharing needles or syringes with an HIV-positive partner. Anal sex is the highest-risk behavior.
You can prevent HIV by using condoms correctly every time you have sex pre-exposure prophylaxis, a prevention method in which the HIV-negative partner takes daily HIV medicine to prevent HIV and treatment as prevention, a method in which the HIV-positive partner takes daily HIV medicine to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load.
Only antigen/antibody tests or nucleic acid tests can diagnose acute HIV infection. NATs look for actual virus in the blood, and antigen/antibody tests look for HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when youre exposed to viruses like HIV, and antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate.
However, no test can detect HIV immediately after infection. NATs can usually tell if you have an HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure, while antigen/antibody tests can tell 18 to 45 days after exposure.
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers or sores
Can Hiv/aids Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by:
- Getting tested for HIV.
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases .
- Not injecting drugs.
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV:
- PrEP is for people who don’t already have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it. PrEP is daily medicine that can reduce this risk.
- PEP is for people who have possibly been exposed to HIV. It is only for emergency situations. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
NIH: National Institutes of Health
Don’t Miss: How Often Do Hiv Patients Get Sick
What To Expect Next
If you find out you are HIV-positive, its important to keep in mind the condition is treatable. Antiretroviral therapy is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. It works by lowering the amount of virus in the body to very low levels. This treatment can also slow the progression of the infection and protect the immune system.
Taking ART medications is vital to slowing the progression of HIV. Left untreated, HIV will progress to the second stage. During this stage, people may experience no symptoms at all. If no treatment is administered, an individual can stay in this stage for 10 to 15 years.
For people who have no symptoms of an acute HIV infection, it takes an average of seven years to proceed to AIDS.
How Long Does It Take To Show Symptoms Of Hiv
The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks your bodys immune system. Left untreated, it can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . Early diagnosis is key to slowing down disease progression.
Symptoms may vary from person to person, but knowing the early symptoms that could present can help you get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
This article will discuss the various stages of HIV, how symptoms may present, how testing works, and what to expect if you test positive for the virus.
Verywell / Danie Drankwalter
Read Also: How Do You Know If You Contracted Hiv
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- Am I at high risk for HIV?
- What can I do to reduce my risk of HIV?
- How can I make sure I take my medications correctly?
- What can I do to protect myself from other illnesses?
- How can prevent the spread of HIV?
- What do my test results mean?
- What do my blood counts mean?
- What vaccinations should I get?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Treatments have come a long way since the height of the AIDS epidemic. You have the best chance of living a long life if youre diagnosed early and are able to get on and stick with ART medications. People living with HIV today are able to work, have active social lives and families, and pursue fulfilling relationships. In fact, this can have a positive impact on your well-being.
While weve come a long way with treatments, unfortunately, social stigmas around HIV still persist. In addition to the feelings of fear and uncertainty a new diagnosis can bring, you may wonder how those around you will respond. If youre hesitant to get tested or get treatment, or if you just arent sure what your next steps are, you can reach out to a community organization that specializes in HIV. Remember that you are deserving of support, compassion and high-quality healthcare.
When To Seek Medical Care
Early diagnosis is key. If you think youve been exposed to HIV or have an encounter that put you at risk for HIV, you should seek medical care right away with a primary care doctor, urgent or walk-in clinic, or, if those are not available to you, a local emergency room.
Doctors can give you a medication called post-exposure prophylaxis after exposure to reduce your chances of developing HIV. But this medication needs to be taken within 72 hours of exposure. Ideally, youd start taking it within the first 24 hours.
If you think you were exposed to HIV in the past for example, if a former sexual partner tells you they have HIV its critical to seek medical care as soon as possible. The sooner you find out you have HIV, the sooner you can start treatment.
Recommended Reading: Can Someone On Arvs Transmit Hiv