Stages of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease Syndrome)

Statistics show that- 

  • An estimate from WHO (World Health Organization) global statistics shows that 37.3 million people (about twice the population of New York) will be living with HIV at the end of 2020.  
  • In 2020, 680,000 people (about the population of Wyoming) died because of HIV-related causes, and 1.5 million got diagnosed with HIV.  

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks your body’s immune system. AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) can develop if HIV is not diagnosed and treated on time. 

HIV grows in 3 stages and without treatment, it gets worse over time. Even though there is no cure for HIV, taking treatment can help prevent it from progressing to AIDS.  

Stages of HIV 

The 3 stages of HIV are: 

  1. Acute HIV infection: This is the earliest stage of HIV infection. Symptoms start showing up within 2 to 6 weeks (about 1 and a half months) after you are exposed to HIV infection. Symptoms that you might notice: 
      • Headache 
      • Fatigue 
      • Aching muscles 
      • Sore throat 
      • Swollen lymph nodes 
      • A red rash (that doesn’t itch, usually on your chest or back) 
      • Fever 
      • Ulcers or sores (in your mouth, esophagus, anus, or genitals) 
      • Headache and other neurological symptoms 
    • Make sure you take an HIV test when you notice any symptoms. 
    • In this stage, HIV multiplies rapidly in the blood and spreads to the whole body, increasing the risk of HIV transmission. 
    • In this stage, your immune system puts up a fight against HIV infection, producing antibodies against it, and is called the seroconversion period 
    • Early diagnosis and treatment can boost your immune system and help to prevent its progression. 
  2. Chronic HIV infection: This stage of HIV is also called the asymptomatic period/clinical latency. In this stage, the flu-like symptoms go away. 
    • Now, HIV multiplies slowly in your body without showing any symptoms. The HIV infection destroys the immune system and starts killing CD4 T cells in your body. Without treatment, the CD4 cell count will drop quickly, opening the door to other infections.  
    • This infection progresses to the next stages in the next 10 years or longer, however, if you take medications for HIV you can stay in this stage for several decades. But you can still transfer this virus to other people.  
  3. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease Syndrome): The last stage of HIV is the most severe one. In this stage, CD4 T cells drastically drop below 200 and the immune system is damaged severely. Now your body cannot fight any new infections that attack your body. These infections are called opportunistic infections, an illness or disease that happens to people who have a weak immune system.

 Some of the opportunistic infections that you can get include:  

  • Cryptococcal meningitis (a parasitic infection that affects the brain) 
  •  Herpes (a viral infection) 
  • Salmonella (a bacterial infection) 
  • Candidiasis (a fungal infection) 
  • Toxoplasmosis (a fungal infection) 
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma (a form of cancer) 
  • Pneumonia 

The symptoms that occur in this stage of HIV include: 

  • Feeling tired all the time 
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck 
  • Fever (that stays longer than 10 days) 
  • Night sweating  
  • Weight loss (without any reason) 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Severe and long-lasting diarrhea 
  • Yeast infections (in your mouth, throat, or vagina) 
  • Bruises or bleeding  
  • Neurological symptoms (memory loss, confusion, balance problems, behavior changes, seizures, and vision changes). 

People with untreated AIDS do not live more than 3 years, although taking proper precautions with treatment can make you live longer.  

Treatment and Prevention 

Right now, the only possible treatment is through Antiretroviral (ARV) Drugs. However, it does not cure HIV, but it stops the HIV virus from further replicating in the body and allows the immune system to regenerate, to fight off opportunistic infections and some other diseases.  

This medication is recommended and used for all 3 stages of HIV. In 2016, the WHO recommended that all people living with HIV take this medication for life.  

HIV can be prevented if you take these certain precautions: 

  • Use condoms and barriers while having sex because HIV can transfer through sex (An HIV-infected person can transfer the infection through certain fluids such as blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk). 
  • Avoid sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment. 
  • If you come in contact with HIV-positive people or have an HIV-positive sex partner, you should consider asking the doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).  

Want to know more about HIV prevention and Treatment?

At Doral Health and Wellness, we have doctors that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at https://doralhw.org or contact us at info@doralhw.org if you have any queries.