Symptoms Early Symptoms of HIV

HIV Symptoms

Early Symptoms

The most obvious sign of HIV infection is a decrease in the number of CD4 cells in the blood. These cells help fight against infection. HIV slowly kills these cells without causing symptoms. Even when the infected individual is asymptomatic, the virus is multiplying, infecting, and destroying cells in the immune system.

After the initial infection with HIV, the next stage is called clinical latency. Although patients experience few or no symptoms during the clinical latency stage, the infection may still be passed to others. Once infected with HIV, the clinical latency stage may last 10 or more years in adults or up to two years in children who are born with HIV infection.

The length of this asymptomatic period varies in individuals. Some people may start to experience more serious symptoms within a few months, while others may be symptom-free for several years. The virus can also hide inside infected cells and lay dormant. Patients can still transmit the virus to others when the virus is dormant.

As the immune system continues to weaken many symptoms appear, including inflamed lymph nodes (swollen glands) that may be enlarged for longer than three months. Other symptoms often experienced months to years before the onset of AIDS include fatigue, weight loss, frequent fevers and sweats, persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal), persistent skin rashes, flaky skin, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women that does not respond well to treatment, and short-term memory loss.

In addition, some individuals develop a painful nerve disease called shingles or frequent and severe herpes infections that cause sores to develop on the mouth, genitals, or anus. Infected children may be sick often, grow or gain weight slowly, or take longer to develop important mental and motor skills.