AIDS, Cancer, and Long-Term Effects of HIV Symptoms

AIDS and Cancer

People with AIDS are also particularly prone to developing various cancers, especially those caused by viruses, such as:
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Cervical cancer
  • Cancers of the immune system known as lymphomas.
These cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS. Signs of Kaposi's sarcoma in light-skinned people are round brown, reddish, or purple spots that develop in the skin or in the mouth. In dark-skinned people, the spots are more pigmented.

Long-Term Impact of HIV Symptoms

During the course of HIV infection, most people experience a gradual decline in the number of CD4+ T cells, although some may have abrupt and dramatic drops in their CD4+ T-cell counts. A person with CD4+ T cells above 200 may experience some of the early HIV symptoms. Others may have no symptoms even though their CD4+ T-cell count is below 200.
Many people are so debilitated by the symptoms of AIDS that they cannot hold a steady job or do household chores. Other people with AIDS may experience phases of intense life-threatening illness followed by phases in which they function normally.
A small number of people first infected with HIV 10 or more years ago have not developed symptoms of AIDS. Scientists are trying to determine what factors may account for their lack of progression to AIDS, such as:
  • Whether their immune systems have particular characteristics
  • Whether they were infected with a less aggressive strain of the virus
  • If their genes may protect them from the effects of HIV.
Scientists hope that understanding the body's natural method of controlling infection may lead to ideas for protective HIV vaccines and the use of vaccines to prevent the disease from progressing.

HIV Information

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