There are many signs and symptoms associated with HIV. This depends on the stage of the disease, and your immune system at the time of diagnosis.
Generally, HIV progresses in 3 stages:
Acute phase: This occurs very early on in the course of HIV, within 4 weeks of being infected. At this time, you may have a flu-like illness that may persist for some time. Other people may not have any symptoms at all. During this time, the HIV Virus replicates rapidly in your body, and your immune system function drops to a low before it starts to rise again. You may have a fever, a cold, swellings around your neck and armpits or a general feeling of malaise. At this time also, an HIV test may come out to be negative and this is because the blood cells are in the process of being sero-converted to HIV infected cells. It is always thus necessary to repeat an HIV test after 4 weeks even if you test negative, if you have reason to believe you may have been infected.
Latency/Asymptomatic phase: At this time, your immune system recovers, although the HIV Virus continues to replicate within your body. You may not have any symptoms, and if you are not taking medication for your HIV, there is a high risk of transmitting the infection to your sexual partner. This period may last more than 10 years before eventually you progress to the final phase of HIV infection.
AIDS: This is the final phase of HIV infection and is known as Acquire Immunodeficiency Syndrome. At this time, your immune system has been badly damaged by the virus and is no longer able to fight off infections in the body. Thus you may experience symptoms such as a protracted cough, rapid weight loss, headaches and seizures, weakness and several other symptoms. It is essential that treatment is started early on in the course of HIV to prevent progression to this phase. Without treatment, persons with AIDS may live for about 3 years.
The only way to know you have HIV is by doing a blood test which can confirm the presence of the virus in your body.
Early diagnosis can help prolong your life if you are started on treatment right away.
With HIV Treatment, your chances of transmitting the virus can drop to almost zero if you have a sustained undetectable viral load.
Undectectable = Untransmittable!
Get tested, start treatment and stay in treatment and you can live a fulfilling life like any other person!