Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection, which is usually transmitted through the exposure to body fluids of an HIV-positive person. The body fluids can be blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, vaginal secretion, and rectal secretion. The other way by which HIV is spread is through mother-to-child transmission which happens during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
HIV is a deadly disease that shortens the lifespan by damaging the immune system. It destroys the antibodies and antigens that are responsible for protecting the body from infections. HIV increases an individual’s vulnerability to opportunistic infections, diseases, and certain types of cancers.
When a person gets contracted by HIV, they may develop some flu-like symptoms in the early stage. When the virus becomes active in the body, it will start multiplying. The process may take around 2 to 4 weeks.
The early stage termed the acute HIV infection, which produces the following symptoms:
Pain in the head can happen during the early stage of HIV. It might not hurt on a particular spot, but rather the aching happens in the whole head. It is a kind of general symptom that happens during many illnesses. The pain might become frequent during the initial stage, which can cause great discomfort.
One of the most common and early symptoms of HIV is fever. It happens as the body raises the temperature to fight the virus and prevent its rapid multiplication. Fever is the body’s natural response to any foreign substance that has entered inside and can have harmful effects on health. In response to viral multiplication, the body raises the temperature to fight off HIV, which is why the person develops a fever during the early stage.
Sore throat and dry cough
The virus may cause sore throat due to which the individual may develop dry coughs. This issue can last for months and can get worse with time. In cases of persistent coughing, it is necessary to see the doctor. This symptom is common among HIV-positive individuals.
Fatigue and tiredness
Fatigue can be a result of impacts on the immune system. The damage caused to the immune system from the attack of HIV and its persistent response to constantly fighting off the viruses causes extreme tiredness among the individual. It can also stem from psychological factors like stress, anxiety, depression, and fear, which usually happens when the individual finds out they are HIV positive. HIV gets them thinking and causes worry among the individual, which causes tiredness.
During early stages, the HIV-infected individual may develop skin rashes, which appear similar to boils. These rashes may or may not cause itchiness. They can turn pink and reddish due to skin irritation. It might cause some pain. They may appear mostly around the face, neck, and upper body, but they can show up anywhere on the body.
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
The infection can affect the digestive system by impacting its normal function. It can give rise to nausea, which is an uneasy feeling that increases the urge to vomit. The gut response also gets impacted, which causes unusual bowel movements, leading to diarrhea.
The person can experience night sweats as the early symptoms of HIV. Due to night sweats, they may have to undergo extreme sweating. Excessive sweating makes their clothes and bed get soaked in sweat. In this way, the individual may lose excessive body fluids.
Muscle pain and joint pain
The individual feels pain around the muscles and joints due to the inflammation and swelling of the lymph nodes, which are part of the immune system. Lymph nodes protect the blood by preventing the attack of viruses and bacteria. HIV infection leads to inflammation, which is why the individual develops pain in the muscles and joints.
The infection can cause the development of mouth sores and ulcers, which leads to difficulties while eating. These ulcers can be a result of some other bacterial or viral infection, which can be treated using prescription medications. The doctor will prescribe some pills that can treat this HIV symptom.
Impacts of contracting HIV
During the beginning stages of the infection, there is a rapid multiplication of HIV happening in the body. The individual is highly likely to transmit the infection to others. Within the first few weeks, the virus grows and multiplies rapidly, thereby giving rise to symptoms. Once it becomes a chronic condition, the virus continues to multiply and attack newly formed cells, which causes the weakening of the immune system.
As the infection progresses, it contributes to the complete damage of the immune system. The individual possibility to catch infections due to opportunistic viruses and bacteria increases. This can cause them to easily develop health conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, certain types of cancers, meningitis, and hepatitis.
Lastly, it is necessary to seek medical treatment. The treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral treatment (ART), which involves therapies and medications. Getting appropriate treatment will reduce immune system damage and eliminate the risk of health conditions occurring due to opportunistic viruses and bacteria.