HIV infection has three stages. The first stage happens within 2 to 6 weeks after becoming infected and is called acute infection or seroconversion. At this stage immune system starts to fight against HIV. The symptoms of acute infection look similar to viral illnesses, like flu. The symptoms last about 1 or 2 weeks and then completely disappear. At this time the vistus goes into a non-symptomatic stage.
Here are the main symptoms of acute HIV infection:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sore throat
- Aching muscles
- Red rash that doesn’t itch, that usually appears on the torso
Now doctors can prevent HIV from affecting the body after the initial infection. Police, health-care workers, firefighters and other people who are exposed to HIV-infected blood take anti-HIV drugs within 72 hours after initial exposure to protect themselves. If you think that you've come in contact with HIV, consult your doctor.
Today you may be tested for HIV with the help of very sensitive tests, which detect both HIV antigen and HIV antibodies. This test can be taken within some days after possible infection. You may be prescribed anti-HIV drugs for a certain period of time. There may be possible side effects caused by these, but they can stop HIV from infecting you.
Most of the people may not know they’ve got HIV, but in a couple of weeks they may have seroconversion symptoms, which mean that the body is fighting HIV.
The second stage is the period when there are no HIV symptoms at all. This is known as a latent period and can last 10 or more years. During this period HIV is in the process of killing the CD4-T cells and destroying the immune system. At this period blood tests can show the number of the CD4 T-cells. An average person has between 450 and 1, 400 cells per microliter. The HIV-infected individual constantly loses them, making the body more vulnerable to infections. It can also lead to developing AIDS.
AIDS is the third stage of HIV. When the amount of CD4-T cells is below 200, the person is diagnosed with AIDS.
Fortunately, combining certain medications to treat HIV can successfully help restore the immune system. The drugs can be expensive and have specific side effects, but it’s important to not stop taking them without consulting the doctor.