Symptoms of AIDS

aids More often, the symptoms of AIDS appear in the late stage of the disease or the "full blown" AIDS stage. It may take 1 to 15 years before a person detected to be HIV positive manifest the symptoms of AIDS. AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a fatal and life-threatening viral infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Symptoms of AIDS are related to weakened immune system or the body's inability to fight off invading organisms like bacteria, virus, and fungi. HIV infection and AIDS are also known risk factors for several forms of cancers.

HIV infection is the initial stage of the disease process while AIDS is the last and the most advanced. Symptoms of HIV infection are different as they are milder than the symptoms of AIDS. The following are the common flu-like symptoms of Acute HIV infection:

  • Night sweats
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Like the usual viral infection, these symptoms disappear and the HIV infected person may be asymptomatic for years. During this time, the virus has continuously destroyed the immune system. After years of immune system destruction, symptoms of AIDS start to appear. The following are the signs and symptoms of AIDS:

  • Severe and rapid weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Dyspnea or shorteness of breath
  • Intense soaking night sweats
  • Dyspnea or shortness of breath
  • Dry cough or productive cough
  • Blurred vision
  • Whitish spots in the tongue, mouth, and vagina
  • Intermittent fever
  • Bruising or purple spots in the skin, mouth, nasal canals, and anus
  • Memory loss, confusion, and other mental and cognitive deficits
  • Depression
  • Tingling and burning sensation of the hands and feet

  • Other than these symptoms of AIDS, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention enumerated the AIDS-defining conditions. These conditions are:

    • Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia
    • Candidiasis
    • Cervical cancer
    • Coccidioidomycosis, Cryptococcosis, and Cryptosporidiosis
    • Diseases caused by cytomegalovirus
    • HIV related encephalopathy
    • Severe Herpes Simplex infection
    • Histoplasmosis
    • Isosporiasis
    • Kaposi's sarcoma
    • Certain Lymphomas
    • Mycobacterium Avium diseases
    • Recurrent pneumonia
    • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
    • Recurrent Salmonella septicemia
    • Toxoplasmosis affecting the brain
    • Pulmonary Tuberculosis
    • Wasting syndrome
    • Viral Hepatitis
    • Cryptococcal meningitis
    • Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

    If a person develops these diseases, it doesn't mean that he's got AIDS. There must be a prior HIV infection. HIV infection and eventually AIDS is transmitted via three methods, sexual transmission, sharing of needles and cross infection by blood products, and fetal-maternal transmission.

    Diagnosis of AIDS is not made with just the presentation of the symptoms of AIDS. It is made after screening the blood for HIV antibodies. Another test called the Orasure test detects HIV antibodies by testing secretions from the cheek and gums. Accuracy with Orasure test is the same with blood screening. It is preferred by most patients since it doesn't require a needle to extract blood from the veins.

    AIDS until this moment doesn't have a cure or no vaccine is available against HIV infection. Management available for AIDS and HIV acts by controlling symptoms of AIDS and HIV and by slowing the replication of the virus. Known treatments for HIV and AIDS are Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs), Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs), Protease Inhibitors (PIs), Fusion Inhibitors, and other anti viral drugs. There are also chances wherein the treatments suppress the virus and restore the patient's immune function. He can live a normal life free from the symptoms of AIDS and HIV.

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