What Are the Symptoms of HIV?
Some people develop HIV symptoms shortly after being infected. But it usually takes more than 10 years.
There are several stages of HIV disease. The first HIV symptoms may include swollen glands in the throat, armpit, or groin. Other early HIV symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. These symptoms may last for only a few weeks. Then there are usually no HIV symptoms for many years. That is why it can be hard to know if you have HIV.
AIDS symptoms appear in the most advanced stage of HIV disease. In addition to a badly damaged immune system, a person with AIDS may also have
thrush — a thick, whitish coating of the tongue or mouth that is caused by a yeast infection and sometimes accompanied by a sore throat
severe or recurring vaginal yeast infections
chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
severe and frequent infections periods of extreme and unexplained tiredness that may be combined with headaches, lightheadedness, and/or dizziness
quick loss of more than 10 pounds of weight that is not due to increased physical exercise or dieting
bruising more easily than normal
long periods of frequent diarrhea
frequent fevers and/or night sweats
swelling or hardening of glands located in the throat, armpit, or groin
periods of persistent, deep, dry coughing
increasing shortness of breath
the appearance of discolored or purplish growths on the skin or inside the mouth
unexplained bleeding from growths on the skin, from the mouth, nose, anus, or vagina, or from any opening in the body
frequent or unusual skin rashes
severe numbness or pain in the hands or feet, the loss of muscle control and reflex, paralysis, or loss of muscular strength
confusion, personality change, or decreased mental abilities
HOW IS HIV SPREAD?
You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use.
HIV is not spread easily. Only certain body fluids from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV:
Pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum)
WAYS HIV IS TRANSMITTED
Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
Sharing needles or syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (“works”) used to prepare injection drugs with someone who has HIV. HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
Less commonly, HIV may be spread:
From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Although the risk can be high if a mother is living with HIV and not taking medicine, recommendations to test all pregnant women for HIV and start HIV treatment immediately have lowered the number of babies who are born with HIV.
By being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers.
HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces) and it cannot reproduce outside a human host. It is not spread by:
- Air or water
- Mosquitoes, ticks or other insects
- Saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of an HIV-positive person
- Shaking hands, hugging, sharing toilets, sharing dishes/drinking glasses, or closed-mouth or “social” kissing with someone who is HIV-positive
- Other sexual activities that don’t involve the exchange of body fluids (for example, touching).