Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or more popularly known as HIV, is a dangerous virus that attacks the body’s immune system. It weakens an individual’s immune system by destroying CD4 cells that help in fighting against various infections and diseases. According to statistical reports, many groups of people who reside in the United States are more likely to get HIV than other people. This happens because of many factors like riskier behaviors and sex partners. And once people get it, they have it for life.
The HIV infection started from a chimpanzee found in Central Africa. According to studies, this virus version (called Simian Immunodeficiency Virus or SIV) found in chimpanzees possibly passed to humans when they hunted these creatures for meat as they came in contact with their infected blood. Some studies also show that this infection may have come from chimpanzees to humans as far back as the late 1800s. Over decades, it slowly spread across Africa, and gradually, it spread into the other parts of the world. This virus has been prevalent in the USA since the mid to late 1970s.
Symptoms and effects of acute infection, chronic infection, and AIDS
If you get infected with HIV, it will immediately start damaging your immune system. The damage caused by the virus will depend on
How quickly the virus progresses will vary by:
- Your age
- Your medical condition and health
- The stage when you are diagnosed
Earlier diagnosis and treatment can make a huge impact on HIV prognosis.
Stage I – Acute infection
An HIV-positive individual may not have serious symptoms in Stage 1. However, large quantities of the virus can be found in their blood as it reproduces rapidly. Certain Stage 1 symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Night Sweats
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth or genital ulcers
Stage II – Chronic Infection
This stage can last for about 10 to 15 years. Also, the infected individual may or may not show signs or have symptoms during this stage. However, as the virus advances, the CD4 cell count decreases faster. Certain Stage 2 symptoms include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
Stage III – AIDS
If HIV is left untreated for long, it advances to AIDS. This can increase the individual’s risk for many infections, including the herpes virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV). It can also cause serious problems with the digestive tract, lungs, and even eyes.
Another possible complication is the cancer of blood vessel walls called Kaposi sarcoma. It’s generally rare but is pretty common in people with advanced HIV. It can cause purple or red lesions on the skin and mouth and also cause problems in the lungs and other internal organs. Moreover, AIDS can also put infected individuals at a higher risk of developing lymphomas. Swollen lymph nodes often indicate lymphoma.
HIV also makes it difficult to fight common infections like the cold and flu. It also increases your vulnerability to pneumonia, tuberculosis, pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PJP), lung cancer, oral thrush, salmonella, etc. HIV can also contribute to nerve damage.
However, remember that these symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have AIDS, as some people do not feel sick while suffering from an acute HIV infection. Other illnesses can cause similar symptoms. Hence, apart from having complete knowledge of the obvious infection indicators, the best way to detect an AIDS infection is to get yourself tested.
If you wish to go for HIV testing, visit the 8-2-8 Urgent Care walk-in clinic in Oceanside, CA. We provide HIV testing and other STD testing at our urgent care clinic with accurate results in a safe, confidential, and comfortable environment.