Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a lentivirus which can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) among humans. AIDS is actually the last stage of HIV infection. At this stage, the person can no longer be cured. This condition develops over time and gradually weakens the immune system. Early signs of HIV infection can be experienced by some but not all people who are infected by the HIV Virus. Often, the signs and symptoms of HIV are mistaken for a simple viral infection or flu. In this article, you will learn what HIV is all about and what the early signs of HIV are in general.
What you need to know about HIV
Before proceeding to the early signs of HIV, one should first understand what HIV is. As mentioned earlier, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a member of the retrovirus family and causes terrible failure of the human immune system, specifically, AIDS. HIV infection occurs through the transfer, from one person to another, of blood, breast milk, semen or vaginal fluid. Activities, such as breast feeding, unprotected sex, use of contaminated needles and even perinatal transmission are the major human activities wherein HIV transmission occurs. As such, both men and women can acquire HIV and it is only a myth that homosexuals are the only at risk group.
The dangers of HIV Infection
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS has killed at least 27 million since the year of its discovery in 1981. Today, scientists are working hand in hand in order to prevent the spread of AIDS. WHO has also reported that a greater awareness of HIV and AIDS, as well as of the methods of prevention, have contributed to a decrease of 19% among the worldwide death cases. Medical professionals have developed a way to combat the proliferation of HIV with the use of antiretroviral drugs, which are essential in trimming down the mortality and morbidity of HIV infection. However, these drugs are not always available worldwide, which is the reason why awareness and preventive measures are vital in order to reduce the number of HIV infection cases.
In the long run, people who are infected with the HIV-1 virus develop AIDS when left untreated. For this reason everyone should be aware of the signs and symptoms of HIV. Note also, that those infected people who eventually die are those who have developed opportunistic infections or malignancies which are linked to the gradual failure of the immune system from long-term HIV infection.
What are the Early Signs of HIV Infection?
HIV symptoms are similar to simple viral infections. The early signs of HIV are like the first warning shot of a HIV infection. Normally, it begins six weeks to three months after infection. The body starts to build up and use antibodies to repel the HIV virus called seroconversion. Some people are sensitive and can experience the early signs of HIV sooner than others. Normally, this is where flu-like symptoms are developed. Here is a list of the common signs of HIV among men and women, and are as follows:
- Muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck or groin
- Mouth sores
Clearly, you will begin to notice that the signs and symptoms of HIV infection are very similar to those of typical flu. If you happen to experience any of these said signs, you may want to consult a doctor to conduct a test to see whether you are indeed infected with an HIV. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that it is very hard to tell whether a symptom is a HIV infection or not, because it shares similar symptoms with other illnesses. A medical diagnosis conducted by a healthcare professional is the only way to confirm this kind of infection. What HIV does to your body is to destroy the white blood cells, which are the ones responsible for fighting off infections. The decrease in the number of white blood cells makes the body vulnerable to all possible types of diseases and health complications. It is when a HIV infected person develops numerous infections can he be diagnosed with AIDS. Have a checkup as soon as you experience any of the said symptoms and especially if you belong to a high risk category for HIV infection.