HIV (human immune-deficiency virus) is one of the most prevalent diseases affecting various parts of the world. The infection is known to deteriorate to aids which is a chronic stage hallmarked by an unresponsive immune system prone to attacks and other infections. Although HIV is incurable, there are several people living with the virus thanks to ARVs (antiretroviral therapy). It is advisable to seek regular medical checkup to catch the infection during the early stages if you suspect infection or have recently put yourself in a compromising situation. There are various signs associated with initial infection, but when do HIV symptoms appear?
Most people with HIV infection will experience short-lived flu-like symptoms including;
• Raised temperatures (fever) – fevers may come in spasms causing you to sweat even in cold temperatures.
• Sore throat – this can persist despite taking lozenges and antibacterial medication. It may escalate to tonsils and dry cough.
• Tiredness and joint pain – a general feeling of exhaustion early in the morning and all day even without engaging any strenuous activity.
• Body rashes – these may appear in various parts of the body mainly face, arms and thigh area.
• Swollen glands/lymph nodes
• Muscle pain
These symptoms usually appear 2 to 6 weeks after infection and are also associated with several other diseases. Having one or two of these symptoms does not necessarily infer HIV infection.
However, having various recurring symptoms at the same time should be a cause for concern. It is generally advisable to get a HIV test if you suspect you have been at risk of infection. Blood transfusion and use of intravenous drugs pose the largest threat. Surgeries, tattoo and having professional dental care carries a lower risk, but is generally not 100% safe.
The symptoms named above can last up to four weeks and should be a sign that your immune system is fighting the early infection. After this, HIV goes to an asymptomatic phase where you do not experience any symptoms. Although you may feel and appear well, the virus will continue to damage your immune system and cells. It may take up to 10 years before your health suddenly plunges down.
HIV symptoms vary in severity depending on the person. Some people may only experience mild signs that quickly fade away while others go through severe experiences ranging from breathing difficulties and coughing to rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high fever and fatigue. Other cases of infection will show no symptom at all. This is usually referred to as latency where the victim does not show any symptoms for up to 10 years or more. The condition then rapidly goes to stage-3 infection or what is commonly known as AIDS. So when do HIV symptoms appear? Anything between 2 weeks and 10 years; it is recommendable to go for HIV testing after every three months.