When a HIV
infection remains untreated, it eventually progresses and becomes AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a condition which occurs when your immune system is weakened by the HIV virus. Patients who suffer from AIDS are susceptible to infections which a healthy immune system would fight off.
HIV can go unnoticed for a long time, as there are not necessarily noticeable HIV symptoms
. However, when HIV progresses and causes AIDS, patients may experience severe symptoms.
When does AIDS cause symptoms?
AIDS happens when the HIV virus has damaged a patient’s immune system and it can no longer function properly. As a result, patients who have AIDS are prone to so-called “opportunistic infections” which take advantage of the immune system’s weakened state.
Symptoms of AIDS includes various kind of infections, for example:
- fungal infections (such as thrush)
- recurrent or chronic pneumonia
- tuberculosis and other Mycobacteria
- herpes and other viruses
- certain unusual bacterial infections
The number of infections which can affect patients with AIDS is huge and therefore the symptoms of these infections can vary significantly.
In addition to the infections, there may be other symptoms of AIDS.
Which symptoms are common?
Typical symptoms for AIDS are:
- tiredness and exhaustion
- excessive sweating at night
- a high fever or chills
- digestion problems such as diarrhoea
- weight loss
- swollen glands (which remain swollen or painful for several months)
In addition, people with AIDS have an increased chance of getting certain types of cancer, including lymphomas and cervical cancer.
Antiretroviral treatment helps to keep the HIV virus under control and significantly slows down the progression to AIDS. In addition to HIV medication, patients with AIDS often require other drugs to control the infections.
The earlier you get HIV treatment
, the better is your outlook. In fact, for those in whom HIV is caught early and treated well, there should be a normal life expectancy
. This is why it is vital to get tested if you think you could have contracted HIV. You can get tested with a home HIV test kit
or visit a nurse clinic for a rapid HIV test.
Top 5 Questions about AIDS
1. What is AIDS?
AIDS occurs in the late stages of a HIV infection. Patients who suffer from AIDS tend to suffer from infections because their immune system has been damaged by the virus.
2. Can AIDS be treated?
AIDS is treated with HIV medication and additional drugs to control opportunistic infections.
3. What should I do if I think I have AIDS symptoms?
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of AIDS you need to visit your doctor immediately. If you have had unprotected sex and think you have contracted HIV you can use a home test kit to get tested. In both cases, you should avoid having sex (especially unprotected sex) until you are sure that you do not have HIV to protect your partner from getting infected.
4. How can I tell whether I have AIDS?
It is very difficult to diagnose AIDS (or HIV) based on the symptoms, as the symptoms can vary. In order to get diagnosed, you need to have a blood test.
5. My symptoms are getting better, do I still need to get tested?
If you are suffering from any symptoms that you think may be due to a HIV infection you must always see a doctor, even if the symptoms get better. Delaying your diagnosis or treatment is likely to make you worse and can put your sexual partners at risk.