Signs and Symptoms

December 7, 2006

The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection. When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms at all, although it’s more common to develop a brief flu-like illness two to six weeks after becoming infected.

Even if you don’t have symptoms (even upto eight – nine years), you’re still able to transmit the virus to others. Once the virus enters your body, your own immune system also comes under attack.As the virus continues to spread you may develop mild chronic symptoms such as:

* Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
* Diarrhea
* Weight loss
* Fever
* Cough and shortness of breath

In 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) redefined AIDS to mean the presence of HIV infection as shown by a positive HIV-antibody test plus at least one of the following:

* The development of an opportunistic infection — an infection that occurs when your immune system is impaired — such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
* A CD4 lymphocyte count of 200 or less — a normal count ranges from 600 to 1,000

Some of the signs that may indicate severe HIV infection or AIDS are:

* Soaking night sweats
* Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
* Dry cough and shortness of breath
* Chronic diarrhea
* Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
* Headaches
* Blurred and distorted vision
* Weight loss
* Persistent, unexplained fatigue
* Soaking night sweats
* Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
* Swelling of lymph nodes for more than three months
* Chronic diarrhea
* Persistent headaches

Children who are HIV-positive often fail to gain weight or grow normally. As the disease progresses, they may have difficulty walking or delayed mental development. In addition to being susceptible to the same opportunistic infections that adults are, children may have severe forms of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections (otitis media), pneumonia and tonsillitis.

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