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.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv In Men
In the United States, men account for approximately 80% of all new HIV infections each year. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the majority are men who have sex with men , and an estimated 10% of HIV-infected men are exclusively heterosexual.
In 2018, there were an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States, of which more than 912,000 were men. Of those, six out of seven knew they were infected before they were diagnosed.
Although the signs and symptoms of HIV are basically the same whether you are a man or a woman, there are several male-specific symptoms that can occur during early or late infection.
7 Main Signs You Have HIV
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.
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What Are Hiv And Aids
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS . HIV attacks the immune system by destroying specific white blood cells called CD4 positive T cells that are vital to fighting off infection. The resulting shortage of these cells leaves people infected with HIV vulnerable to other infections and diseases, and additional complications.
AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. A person infected with HIV is diagnosed with AIDS when he or she has a dangerously low number of CD4+ T cells as well as one or more opportunistic infections, such as some types of pneumonia or tuberculosis, that do not typically affect people with healthy immune systems.
Although HIV infection and AIDS primarily affect the immune system, they also disturb the nervous system and can lead to a wide range of severe neurological disorders, particularly if HIV goes untreated and progresses to AIDS. Many of the most severe neurological conditions can be prevented with antiretroviral therapy. However, even individuals who receive this treatment can develop less severe neurological and cognitive difficulties.
Chronic Hiv Infection Symptoms
Even after the acute infection has been controlled, the virus does not disappear. Instead, it goes into a period of chronic HIV infection in which the virus persists at lower levels in the bloodstream and continues to silently kill CD4 T-cells.
At the same time, the virus will imbed itself in tissues throughout the body called latent reservoirs. These reservoirs effectively hide HIV from detection by the immune system.
Clinical latency is a relatively long period in which there may be few, in any, notable signs or symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they tend to be non-specific and easily mistaken for other illnesses.
Some of the more common OIs experienced during chronic HIV infection include:
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Hiv Symptoms In Men And Women
- Fatigue: HIV infection often makes you getting tired early compared to your previous stamina. Fatigue is caused due to inflammatory response caused by immune system.
- Acute Retroviral Syndrome : This is a condition when you experience flu like symptoms. A mild fever of around 102 degree is also noticed.
- Short term Nausea: 30 to 60% patients in the early stages of HIV infection experience Short- term nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Weight Loss: HIV infection can cause weight loss in a short period of time even if you are having a good diet.
- Skin Rashes: Rashes on the trunk of body and boil-like pink areas on arms are both early and late symptoms of AIDS.
- Swollen Lymph Nodes: Lymph Nodes are a part of our bodys immune system and Lymph Nodes usually get inflamed when HIV is present in our body.
- Muscle and Joint Pain: People often take it as a viral infection but sometimes muscle and joint pain is a result of HIV infection.
- Prolonged Dry Cough: Dry Cough is an early symptom of HIV infection.
- Confusion and Difficulty in Concentration: This symptom is often taken as a psychiatric problem, but its a sign of HIV- related dementia. Its also accompanied by memory and behavioral problems.
- Numbness or Tingling sensation: numbness and tingling sensation is also noticed in some cases of HIV AIDS.
- Menstrual Irregularities: Menstrual irregularities are also noticed by women suffering from HIV Infection.
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Is There Any Treatment Of A Cure For Hiv/aids
Currently, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. People living with HIV will need lifelong treatment. The best treatments right now are combinations of prescription drugs. These medications include antiviral treatment, protease inhibitors and other drugs that help people who are living with HIV stay healthy. People living with HIV also can stay healthy by doing things like eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep.
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Are There Any Early Symptoms That Are Specific To Penis Owners
No, not really. Symptoms of HIV are generally the same in people of all genders.
One HIV symptom that is unique to people with penises that can occur is an ulcer on the penis. Theyre often caused by a concomitant sexually transmitted infection , like syphilis or herpes simplex virus, or chancroid.
Hypogonadism , which is a condition marked by poor production of sex hormones, may develop in people who have HIV thats not well managed, long-term HIV, or because of aging.
People with all sorts of genitals can develop hypogonadism, but its easier to observe the effects in penis owners.
Other symptoms of hypogonadism penis owners may experience include:
Is There An Hiv Vaccine
Despite over 35 years of aggressive global research, scientists have yet to develop a vaccine able to effectively prevent or eradicate HIV. This is due in part to the fact that HIV mutates rapidly. Because of this, it is extremely challenging to develop a single vaccine able to target the multitude of strains and mutations.
Another challenge is that HIV quickly imbeds itself in tissues throughout the body, called latent reservoirs, soon after infection. Rather than multiplying, these viruses lay in hiding, largely unseen by the immune system.
Even if a vaccine were able to eradicate HIV in the bloodstream, these hidden viruses can spontaneously reactivate and start infection anew.
Faced with these setbacks, many scientists have shifted their focus to developing therapeutic vaccines designed to improve the bodys immune response to HIV in someone who already has HIV.
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What Does An Hiv Blood Test Entail
For a long time, HIV could only be diagnosed through a blood test that looked for antibodies to the virus. After exposure to the virus, it can take several weeks for the body to produce HIV antibodies. This means that HIV may not be detected if a person is tested too soon after possible exposure.
HIV also produces a protein known as p24 antigen, or HIV antigen. It appears very soon after transmission. A blood test for the HIV antigen is available. It can confirm whether someone has HIV within 15 to 20 days after a sexual encounter.
If a person has a rash on their penis and an HIV test comes up negative, their healthcare provider may have them take a urine test to look for a possible yeast or fungal infection.
If a rash on the penis isnt related to HIV, a healthcare provider will likely recommend an over-the-counter or prescription medication or ointment to relieve symptoms. The recommended medication depends on whether the rash is:
If the healthcare provider determines that a person has HIV, one of the next steps will be to discuss treatment options. The standard treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy. It includes a combination of medicines taken daily to help reduce the amount of HIV in the body. It cant eliminate the virus, but it can minimize the level of circulating virus. Minimizing the amount of virus present in the body can help ensure that an HIV-positive person is better protected against other infections.
When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Hiv/aids
All sexually active adults should know their HIV status and should be tested for HIV routinely at least once. This is the only way to know whether one is HIV infected. It is not unusual for a person to get HIV from a person they never knew could have HIV again, most people with HIV do not know it for years. Testing is important yearly or more often if a person has risk factors for HIV. If someone has a history of engaging in unprotected sex outside of a mutually monogamous relationship or sharing needles while using drugs, he or she should have an HIV test. Early testing, recognition of the signs and symptoms of HIV infection, and starting treatment for HIV as soon as possible can slow the growth of HIV, prevent AIDS, and decrease the risk of transmission to another person. If a woman is pregnant and infected with HIV, she can greatly reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission by getting treatment. HIV testing is routinely offered at the first prenatal visit.
HIV testing is available through any health care provider, as well as anonymously and confidentially. Home tests for HIV are available for purchase in most pharmacies and online. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a tool to help the public find their nearest HIV testing site by zip code at https://gettested.cdc.gov. You can also text your ZIP code to KNOW IT , or call 1-800-CDC-INFO . Knowing one’s status is the first step to avoiding AIDS.
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How Are These Disorders Treated
No single treatment can cure the neurological complications of HIV/AIDS. Some disorders require aggressive therapy while others are treated as symptoms arise.
Neuropathic painchronic pain caused by damage to the nervous systemis often difficult to control. Medicines range from over-the-counter pain killers to anticonvulsant drugs, opiates, and some classes of antidepressants. Inflamed tissue caused by autoimmune or other conditions can press on nerves, causing pain. Such illnesses may be treated with corticosteroids or procedures such as plasma exchange, formally known as plasmapheresis, that clear the blood of harmful substances that cause inflammation.
Treatment options for AIDS- and HIV-related neuropsychiatric or psychotic disorders include antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Psychostimulants may also improve depression and reduce fatigue. Drugs such as cholinesterase inhibitors, which can temporarily improve or stabilize memory and thinking skills in people with dementia, may relieve confusion and slow mental decline. Benzodiazepines may be prescribed to treat anxiety. Psychotherapy may also help some individuals.
Other treatments may include physical therapy and rehabilitation, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to shrink cancerous brain tumors that may be related to HIV, antifungal or antimalarial drugs to combat certain bacterial infections associated with the disorder, and penicillin to treat neurosyphilis.
How Do I Avoid Passing Hiv On To Someone Else
If you are infected with HIV, the best way to prevent spreading HIV infection to others is to:
- take your medication as prescribed there is a very low risk of passing on HIV if your own infection is under control
- use condoms and a water-based lubricant for anal and vaginal sex
- never share needles, syringes and other injecting equipment
If you have HIV infection, you are expected to notify anyone who is at risk of exposure from you:
- Tell people you have had sex or taken drugs with . Your doctor can help you decide who may be at risk and help you to contact them either personally or anonymously.
- Tell anyone you intend to have sex with about your HIV status . This is required by law in some states.
If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about starting antiretroviral treatment to prevent the infection passing to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Read more about HIV and pregnancy.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Aids
Having an infection with the HIV virus does not automatically mean that the patient has AIDS. As the HIV virus infects more and more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself, the patients immune system gets overwhelmed and begins to falter. When the immune system breaks down due to HIV infection, opportunistic infections like fungal infections, pneumonias, and cancers can occur. When this level of HIV infection occurs, it is called AIDS .
Some of the signs and symptoms of progression of HIV to AIDS are:
Is Rash A Symptom Of Hiv
Rashes are a common part of HIV infection. In some cases, the rash may be related to an OI or caused by a hypersensitive reaction to HIV medications.
A rash may also be a sign of acute HIV infection. Research suggests that around 50% of people who seek a diagnosis for acute HIV symptoms will have a rash, sometimes referred to as an HIV rash.
An HIV rash is described as being maculopapular. This means that there will be flat, reddened patches of skin covered with small bumps.
An HIV rash most often affects the upper body, including the face and chest, but may also develop on the arms, legs, hands, and feet. The rash can be itchy and even painful. In most cases, the rash will clear within a week or two.
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Is Hiv/aids Different In Older Adults
A growing number of older people are living with HIV/AIDS. One reason is because improved treatments are helping people with the disease live longer. Nearly half of people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 and older. Many of them were diagnosed with HIV in their younger years. However, thousands of older people get HIV every year.
Older people are less likely than younger people to get tested, so they may not know they have HIV. Signs of HIV/AIDS can be mistaken for the aches and pains of normal aging. Older adults might be coping with other diseases and the aches and pains of normal aging, which can mask the signs of HIV/AIDS.
Some older people may feel ashamed or afraid of being tested. Plus, doctors do not always think to test older people for HIV. Some people may not have access to high-quality health facilities and services, which can limit their treatment options. By the time the older person is diagnosed, the virus may be in the late stages and more likely to progress to AIDS.
Remember, if you are at risk, get tested regularly for HIV.
For people who have HIV, it is important to start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. Treatment can help reduce the level of HIV in the blood to undetectable levels. When treatment makes HIV undetectable, the possibility of spreading the virus to a sexual partner becomes very low. This is known as treatment as prevention .
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Many People Have No Symptoms But Watch For These
There are certain clues that suggest a person has HIV. The signs of HIV depend on whether a person is in the new or persistent stage of infection:
- Acute symptoms of HIV happen when the immune system mounts a defense against the virus as it first enters the body. The early symptoms of HIV are caused by the body’s response to the virus and are referred to as acute retroviral syndrome .
- Chronic symptoms of HIV develop as the virus breaks down the body’s immune defenses, leaving it open to infection. During the chronic stage of HIV, many symptoms are non-specific, meaning that they could be caused by other things.
During the acute stage of HIV infection, as many as 2 out of 3 people with HIV do not know they have it.
HIV can also be a “silent” disease when it becomes chronica person may have symptoms but assume they are from another cause.
This article will go over 6 common signs and symptoms of HIV that you should know, especially if you are at risk of getting the virus.
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