It is a retrovirus that causes HIV infection and is spread primarily by unprotected sex
(including anal and oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions of the infected person,
unclean infected hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery,
or breastfeeding. Some bodily fluids, such as sweat, saliva, tears and urine, do not
If it is left untreated overtime it can lead to AIDS( acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
which is a group of diseases in which there is progressive failure of the immune system,
which allows the life-threatening infections and cancers to attack the body.
HIV infects the key cells of human immune system by which immunity decreases, and the body
becomes progressively more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
Q: What are the types of HIV?
Two types of HIV have been characterized: HIV-1 and HIV-2.
HIV-1 is the virus that was initially discovered and is more virulent,
more infective, and is the cause of the majority of HIV infections globally.
The lower infectivity of HIV-2 compared to HIV-1 implies that fewer of those
exposed to HIV-2 will be infected per exposure
The symptoms of HIV can differ from person-to-person and some people may not get any symptoms at all.
There are three main stages of HIV infection: acute infection, clinical latency and AIDS
Acute primary infection
Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after HIV
infection. But some people may not feel sick during this stage.
Symptoms can include :
fever (raised temperature)
joint aches and pains
The above symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks. During this time, infection
may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread
Clinical latency/Chronic HIV infection/Asymptomatic stage:
While typically there are few or no symptoms at first, near the end of this stage
many people experience fever, weight loss, G.I. problems and muscle pains.
Some persons may also develop persistent generalized lymphadenopathy,
characterized by unexplained, non-painful enlargement of more than one
group of lymph nodes (other than in the groin) for period of 3 to 6 months.
During this stage, HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels. This period can
last a decade or longer, but some people may progress through this stage faster.
But medicine and treatment helps keep the virus in check.
Most importantly people can still transmit HIV to others during this phase even if they have no symptoms.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)/Symptomatic HIV infection
This is the end stage. If infected with HIV and are not on ART medicines, eventually the virus
will weaken your body's immune system and you will progress to AIDS,
which is the last stage of HIV infection.
Symptoms can include:
Rapid weight loss
Extreme and unexplained tiredness
Diarrhoea that lasts for more than a week
Recurring fever or profuse night sweats especially at night.
Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.
Many of the severe symptoms of HIV disease come from the opportunistic
infections because your body's immune system has been damaged.
Having AIDS doesn't mean that person will die from an AIDS-related diseases
but getting the right treatment is really important at this point.
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