Since 1988, every year on December 1, the world observes AIDS Day to unite people in their fight against HIV, to support people living with the condition and to remember the ones who have lost their fight against AIDS. World AIDS Day also happens to be the first ever day dedicated to health. According to UNAIDS, close to 36.9 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2017. The HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus targets the immune system and its CD$ cells. “An estimated 10 to 60 percent people with early HIV infection will not experience symptoms, although the exact proportion is difficult to estimate, since patients generally come to attention because of symptoms, and thus asymptomatic infections often remain undetected, ” says Dr Ambanna Gowda, consultant, internal medicine at Fortis Bangalore. UNAIDS Report Says 9.4 Million People Don’t Know They Are HIV Positive!
Although symptoms may differ from person-to-person, here are some common signs of HIV infection according to Dr Gowda.
Fever is one of the commonest symptoms in patients with acute HIV infection. It is a sign that there’s an underlying inflammation in the body.
Swollen Lymph Nodes or Lymphadenopathy
Lymph nodes of the affected person may get swollen within a few days of contracting HIV infection. Lymphadenopathy is seen in the armpits or the groin area of the person.
If the person has contracted HIV, he or she may experience a chronic sore throat that may keep recurring. The discomfort may be caused by thrush, an opportunistic infection that is caused when the person’s immune system is weakened by the virus. Does Homosexuality Lead to HIV/ AIDs?
The skin, especially on the trunk area, may break out into a rash, following an HIV infection. If the rash is unexplained or not responding to treatment, an HIV test should be considered.
Inflammation of any kind may cause body pain, but muscle pain or myalgia is also an early symptom of HIV infection. The pain will not be limited only to the muscle; it may spread out to the joints and the entire body.
Gastric troubles like diarrhoea is an early symptom of HIV. Opportunistic pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi take over the body when the immune system is already compromised, causing such gastric disturbances.
Unexplained weight loss is another sign of HIV infection. The accompanying diarrhoea and nausea make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrition, causing extreme weight loss. The high viral load may also cause the person to shed weight.
Headaches of a recurring, unrelenting nature can be a sign of HIV infection. The virus attacks the CD4 T-cells. The low count of the T cells can be a trigger for headaches.
Dr Gowda adds that in patients with acute symptomatic infection, the incubation time for the HIV is two to four weeks, but it can also extend for ten months. “The highest frequency of symptoms and signs were observed just before the peak viremia occurred, approximately two weeks after the initial detection of viral RNA,” he says.