Home >> Content >> What Are The Symptoms Of HIV Infection And AIDS?

What Are The Symptoms Of HIV Infection And AIDS?

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - 14:40
Contributors to this article: 


Most people newly infected with the HIV virus show few, if any, symptoms for a few years. But during this asymptomatic period, HIV is actively multiplying, infecting, and killing cells in the immune system, particularly CD4+ T cells. People are very infectious during this early phase.

As the immune system weakens, symptoms begin to emerge.

Early Symptoms Of HIV Infection

Some people, but not all, develop symptoms within a month or two of exposure to HIV. These people may have a flu-like illness with such symptoms as:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes)
  • Achy muscles and joints

These early symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month. Most HIV-infected people who experience these early symptoms won't see any more signs of the infection for at least a few years.

Later Symptoms Of HIV Infection

Usually, it takes about eight to nine years between the time of infection and the appearance of later symptoms, although this varies from person to person. These symptoms signal that immune system function is deteriorating, due to declining numbers of CD4+ T cells.

Not all people with HIV infection develop further symptoms. For those who do, however, symptoms may include:

  • Persistent, enlarged lymph nodes
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent fevers
  • Night sweats
  • Chronic or frequent diarrhea
  • Genital sores (sores around the penis or vagina)
  • Thrush (an infection of the mouth caused by Candida, a yeast-like fungus) and mouth lesions
  • Skin rash or flaky skin
  • Joint stiffness and pain
  • Bone pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Repeated bacterial, viral, or fungal infections

As the CD4+ T cell count continues to drop and the immune system deteriorates further, individuals may continue to experience the above symptoms as well as develop new ones.

What Symptoms Signal The Onset Of AIDS?

An HIV-infected person receives an AIDS diagnosis when he or she has:

  • A CD4+ T cell count of less than 200, and/or
  • At least one of more than two dozen opportunistic infections and conditions

In the United States, the most common AIDS-defining condition in both women and men is a lung infection called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, abbreviated PCP.

Other AIDS-defining conditions include severe body wasting andCandida infection of the esophagus, windpipe, or lungs.


This article continues: