Though it can go undetected for several years, one of the earliest symptom of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is HIV oral lesions. Note that even though oral lesions aren’t necessarily proof of HIV, anyone who notices persistent oral lesions should get themselves tested for the virus, because a compromise of the immune system could be preventing normal treatments from taking effect. Oral lesions can be quite uncomfortable but you can still be confident with your smile when you receive its proper treatment. Even without visible symptoms, regular testings are generally encouraged as early treatment can prevent these symptoms from breaking out.
What it Looks Like
HIV oral lesions can come in many different forms. If there’s an outbreak outside the mouth, the lesions may take the form of:
● Cold sores: raised and painful sores. They’re caused by herpes simplex, and will keep recurring until treated with acyclovir, the antirviral drug.
● HPV warts: small, cauliflower-like bumps scattered around the mouth or in folds. Bear in mind that some strains of HPV cause cancer, so it’s best to test yourself immediately so get suspicious.
If they appear inside the mouth, oral lesions will appear either on the tongue, gums or cheek walls. They’ll feel painful whenever you speak, eat or brush your teeth, and won’t go without the help of antiretroviral drugs.
● Candidiasis or Thrush: is a fungal infection that’ll look like red sores on the roof of your mouth and gum, or thick white patches anywhere in the mouth. Antifungal creams usually clear them, but some strains are resistant to drugs.
● Canker Sores (or Apthous Ulcers): are easily recognized by their red rims and gray centers. They move from the mouth down towards the throat, so they’re especially uncomfortable if left to fester for long.
● Hairy Leukoplakia: is often fuzzy, whitish and shows up on the sides of the tongue. As irritating as it is, hairy leukoplakia is often painless, so most people try scrubing it off while brushing their teeth.
Bottom line? Regardless of how hygenic a person’s dental care is, early symptoms of HIV can still turn up if tests aren’t done regularly, so it’s better to start early treatment and prevent these symptoms from ever materializing.