Disease, Lifestyle

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of HIV in Men & Women?

Overview

HIV is an acronym for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that can be found in human blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. The virus destroys specific cells of the body’s immune system, thus, destroying the entire immunity system altogether. 

Even though most individuals are aware of HIV, they may be unaware of how it might impact the body. Immunodeficiency is a condition that HIV can cause. Throughout the progression of the disease, various symptoms of HIV may start showing and can also lead to other illnesses.

Once HIV invades the body, it immediately attacks the immune system and steadily weakens the body’s natural defences.

Immune system:

The immune system’s principal function is to protect the body from disease. White blood cells guard the body against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Symptoms of HIV in the early stages may be insignificant and are often ignored. Acute HIV is the earliest stage of the disease  and is called acute infection.

Symptoms of HIV Infection:

Symptoms of HIV might vary from person to person, although the initial signs of infection often start showing within the first one to two months. Many patients usually develop acute flu-like symptoms as the body’s natural response to a viral infection. This particular period is known as “seroconversion.”

During this time, it’s very important to figure out if HIV is the main reason because your risk of transmission is very high, particularly through physical or sexual comtact. However, for a final diagnosis, one needs to undergo an HIV positivity test.

When HIV enters the body for the first time, it is called a “primary infection.” Some researchers use the term ‘Acute HIV Infection’ to describe the duration of infection and antibody production. Typically, the human body develops such antibodies in 6 – 12 weeks.

Newly infected individuals with HIV may experience flu-like symptoms that last for a few days, like high fever, night sweats, cough, and rashes. Others may experience no symptoms or very mild signs. As symptoms of HIV in men and women are so general, it can be quite difficult to make a correct and definite diagnosis of HIV. Any other virus could also be causing your symptoms if you were exposed to a high risk of contracting it through sexual contact.

When Do The Initial Symptoms Of HIV Appear?

The first symptoms of HIV can show anywhere between 2 and 6 weeks after infection. In most patients, symptoms progressively disappear over the next few weeks; however, some patients experience little or no symptoms of HIV in the mouth

HIV develops in three stages, including:

• The acute infection phase in the initial few weeks after transmission

• Chronic stage or clinical latency

• AIDS

1. Acute infection

During this stage, an HIV-positive individual may not show many acute symptoms, but the levels of  virus in the body are typically high due to its rapid replication.

Signs of acute infection can include the following:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating at night
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Throat discomfort
  • Rashes
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Oral and genital ulcers
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent cough

2. Chronic Stage

The next phase is known as the chronic infection phase. It can last up to ten to fifteen years. During this stage, HIV-positive people may or may not show any symptoms.

As the infection progresses, the CD4 count declines significantly, which can result in the following symptoms of HIV:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Frequent Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Repetitive yeast infections in the mouth or genital area
  • Pneumonia
  • Shingles

3. AIDS

When AIDS occurs, the immune system is severely compromised. You will be more susceptible to infections that wouldn’t normally affect a healthy individual. These are referred to as opportunistic infections or cancers. Among the possible AIDS symptoms are:

  • Persistent fever
  • Chronic lymph gland enlargement, mainly in the armpit, neck, and groin 
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sweating at night
  • Oral, genital, or anal sores, patches, or lesions
  • Rashes, bumps, or sores on the skin
  • Frequent or chronic diarrhoea
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Neurological issues include difficulties in concentration, memory loss, and confusion
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Chills

How Can A Person Develop HIV?

HIV is spread through body fluids such as:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Vaginal Fluids
  • Rectal fluids
  • Breast milk

The following are the possible sources of HIV infection:

  • Having unprotected sex 
  • Sharing syringes to inject drugs, body piercing or tattooing 
  • Using a needle contaminated with HIV-infected blood
  • Putting HIV-contaminated blood, sperm, or vaginal secretions into open wounds or sores
  • Blood transfusion
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding all have risks of HIV transmission to an unborn child.

Symptoms of HIV in Men:

In most cases, HIV symptoms are the same in both men and women.

Penile ulcers are the typical symptoms of HIV in Men, and are usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection like syphilis, herpes simplex virus, chancroid, or a combination of these.

Hypogonadism, characterised by low sex hormone production, may develop in patients with poorly treated HIV, long-term HIV, or ageing. Hypogonadism can affect anyone, although it’s easier to spot in men. 

Other symptoms of HIV include:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Reduced body hair

HIV Symptoms in Women:

More serious symptoms may not show up for at least 10 years. Even though a person is asymptomatic, the virus might be transmitted. 

Symptoms of HIV in women include:

  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • Bacterial vaginosis; STDs such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis;
  • Reproductive organ infection and menstrual cycle alterations (no periods)

Symptoms of HIV in the Mouth:

People who have HIV often develop oral problems. Due to HIV-induced immunodeficiency, you may be more susceptible to gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), mouth infections, and open wounds.

Oral issues can cause discomfort, embarrassment, and low self-esteem. You should be aware of these five symptoms of HIV in the mouth.

  1. Oral Warts
  2. Hairy Leukoplakia
  3. Oral Fungus
  4. Canker Sores
  5. Gum Infection

Conclusion:

HIV testing is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Thus, if you think you may have been infected by HIV or keep changing sexual partners very frequently, you should get tested soon, even if any symptoms of HIV haven’t shown yet.

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