Acute HIV infection, clinical latency, and AIDS are the three stages of HIV infection. As the illness grows, it will eventually overwhelm your immune system if you do not seek treatment. The rate of progression through the stages varies depending on a variety of circumstances, including:
- Makeup genetics
- Level of health prior to infection Amount of virus exposure
- The virus’s genetic traits
- When does treatment begin?
- Antiretroviral therapy (ART) should be used correctly.
- Exercise, a good diet, and not smoking are examples of health-related decisions.
Acute HIV infection is the first stage.
People with HIV may develop severe flu-like symptoms two to four weeks after becoming infected. This is the stage of acute HIV infection, often known as “primary HIV infection” or “acute retroviral syndrome.” Among the signs and symptoms are:
- glands swollen
- Rash of Fever
- Throat irritation
- Aches and pains in the joints and muscles
- Pain in the head
Because a lot of HIV is being created at this point, the number of CD4 cells is rapidly decreasing. The immune response gradually reduces HIV levels down to the viral set point, which is a very constant level. CD4 levels begin to climb as the virus level lowers, but they seldom revert to pre-infection levels. People in this stage are at a higher risk of transmitting HIV due to the high levels of the virus.
Clinical Latency (Stage 2)
HIV enters the clinical latency stage after the acute stage, which is also known as “chronic HIV infection” or “asymptomatic HIV infection.” The term “latency” refers to the virus’s ability to exist and proliferate at low levels within an infected person without causing symptoms. Even though persons are symptom-free during clinical latency, they can still transmit HIV to others; medication can help lower this risk.
The clinical latency stage normally lasts roughly ten years without therapy, though it can be shorter or longer based on a variety of conditions. You advance to the third and final stage of HIV infection when the viral load begins to climb again and CD4 levels fall.
AIDS, Stage 3
The immune system is severely weakened in the later stages of HIV infection, and the body becomes exposed to opportunistic infections. When at least one of the following occurs, you have progressed to AIDS:
- The number of CD4 cells per cubic millimeter of blood drops to less than 200.
- You become infected with one or more opportunistic illnesses.
- Without therapy, people with AIDS usually live for three years. Starting treatment after you’ve been diagnosed with AIDS is good, but it’s better to start treatment sooner rather than later. Because of efficient medication that slows the course of HIV in the United States, most persons with the virus do not develop AIDS.
Treatment for HIV
There is currently no cure for HIV, but with adequate treatment, people with HIV can live healthier and longer lives. Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, is the use of HIV drugs to treat the virus. It entails taking a daily regimen of HIV medications. ART stops HIV from multiplying and reduces the amount of HIV in the body. Reduced HIV levels help to preserve the immune system and prevent HIV infection from progressing to AIDS. Treatment also lowers the risk of HIV transmission to others.
HIV testing is available.
The only method to find out if you have HIV is to have your blood tested. It’s critical to know if you’re infected so you can take action to lower your risk of spreading HIV to others and begin treatment. The greatest method to slow the progression of HIV is to start therapy as soon as possible. If you get flu-like symptoms after being exposed to HIV, seek medical attention very once. Because HIV infection can be difficult to identify early on with testing, it’s critical to inform your healthcare professional if you believe you’re at risk.
HIV/AIDS is a life-threatening infection that targets the immune system. People infected with HIV, on the other hand, can typically live as long as someone who is HIV-free with the right medication.