Symptoms of HIV and AIDS
According to the NIH, there are three stages of an HIV infection .
- Stage 1, Acute HIV
- Stage 2, Chronic HIV, and
- Stage 3, AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
Stage 1 HIV: Acute HIV
The acute HIV phase develops within two to four weeks after the initial infection. HIV replicates rapidly, and the risk of transmission is high. It destroys the body’s CD4 T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell crucial to help fight infections. At this stage, some may experience flu-like symptoms. These include fever, rash, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, sore throat, and more.
Stage 2 HIV: Chronic HIV
During Stage 2 of HIV, HIV cells multiply but at low levels. Because of this, some people with chronic HIV infections may not experience symptoms. If left untreated at this stage, it can progress into the next stage over a decade or so.
Stage 3 HIV: AIDS or Symptomatic HIV
Stage 3 of HIV is considered AIDS. By this time, an infected individual’s immune system is fragile and vulnerable to, what is known as, opportunistic infections.
According to the CDC, “Opportunistic infections (OIs) are illnesses that occur more frequently and are more severe in people with HIV.” These include bacterial infections like Candidiasis, cervical cancer, fungal infections like Coccidioidomycosis, Herpes Simplex Virus, lymphoma, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and many more .
The virus is most transmissible during the very early stages of the infection. This is one of the reasons for the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s and early 2000s.