More Details on Signs of HIV

Weakened Immune System and New HIV Symptoms

As the immune system becomes weaker, a variety of complications start to take over. For many people, the first symptoms of HIV are large lymph nodes or "swollen glands" that may be enlarged for more than three months. Other symptoms of HIV often experienced months to years before the onset of AIDS include:
  • Lack of energy
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent fevers and sweats
  • Persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
  • Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (in women) that does not respond to treatment
  • Short-term memory loss.


Some people with HIV symptoms develop frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital, or anal sores, or a painful nerve disease called shingles. Children with symptoms may grow slowly or be sick a lot.


When Do Symptoms of HIV Turn Into to AIDS Symptoms?

The term AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. The definition of AIDS includes all HIV-infected people who have fewer than 200 CD4+ T cells per cubic millimeter of blood. (Healthy adults usually have CD4+ T-cell counts of 1,000 or more.)

AIDS and Opportunistic Infections

The definition of AIDS also includes 26 clinical conditions that affect people with advanced HIV disease. Most of these conditions are opportunistic infections that generally do not affect healthy people. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe, and sometimes fatal, because the immune system is so ravaged HIV symptoms that the body cannot fight off certain bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and other microbes.
Symptoms of opportunistic infections common in people with AIDS include:
  • Coughing and shortness of breath
  • Seizures and lack of coordination
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Mental symptoms, such as confusion and forgetfulness
  • Severe and persistent diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vision loss
  • Nausea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting
  • Weight loss and extreme fatigue
  • Severe headaches
  • Coma.
Children with AIDS may get the same opportunistic infections as do adults with the disease. In addition, they also have severe forms of the typically common childhood bacterial infections, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), ear infections, and tonsillitis.

HIV Information

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