The first symptoms that can indicate an infection by the AIDS virus (HIV) include general malaise, fever, dry cough and sore throat. This symptoms often mimic symptoms of a common cold and last for approximately 14 days, appearing 3 to 6 weeks after initial contact with the HIV virus.
Contamination usually occurs due to risky behaviors, such as having sex without a condom or sharing needles. HIV tests should be done 40 to 60 days after any risky behavior, since there is a window period of 21 to 90 days until the virus can be detected.
Main symptoms of AIDS
The main symptoms of AIDS only appear if the person doesn’t get any treatment against the HIV virus and can occur about 8 to 10 years after first being infected with HIV. These symptoms can include:
- Persistent fever;
- Prolonged dry cough and scratchy throat;
- Night sweats;
- Swollen lymph nodes for more than 3 months;
- Headache and difficulty concentrating;
- Pain in the muscles and joints;
- Tiredness, fatigue and loss of energy;
- Fast weight loss;
- Frequent oral or genital yeast infections;
- Persistent diarrhea, nausea or vomiting;
- Reddish spots or sores on the skin.
This symptoms usually occur when HIV virus has developed into large amounts, affecting white cell production and the immune system. Opportunistic infections, such as viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, pneumonia or toxoplasmosis, usually also develop at this stage due to the weakened immune system.
How do I know if I am HIV-positive?
To find out if you have been infected with the HIV virus, first you should check whether, or not, you have had any risky behavior, such as unprotected sex or shared syringes, and be aware of symptoms such as fever, general malaise, sore throat and dry cough.
You should get a blood test done 40 to 60 days after any risky behavior to find out if you have HIV. If the test comes back negative you should repeat it after 3 months and again after 6 months.
Treatment for AIDS
AIDS is incurable, and so, life-long treatment is necessary. The main goal of treatment is to strengthen the immune system and fight the virus, controlling and reducing the amount of it in the blood.
Ideally, you should start treatment before the HIV infection develops into AIDS. This can be done with a cocktail of different medications such as Efavirenz, Lamivudine and Tenofovir.