SYMPTOMS AND PREVENTION
There are many symptoms that can result from contracting the HIV virus or getting AIDS. There are several stages in the life of the virus. The first stage is the infection itself. Once the virus enters the body, you are immediately infectious. Many people will show no signs of being infected and will have no idea they are infected. They could be infected for many years and show no symptoms.
Then there is the Primary Infection or the Acute Infection. This is when the virus first establishes itself in the body. This is the period of time between the time the virus was contracted and the time the first antibodies are produced by the body. This is usually between 6 and 12 weeks. At this stage, %70 of the people infected will develop flu-like symptoms and they will usually only last a few days.
The next stage is Serviceperson. This term refers to the time the body begins to develop antibodies to fight the virus.
After Seroconversion comes Immune System Decline. At this point, the body's immune system is damaged by the virus and lowers in strength. This can take a few years depending on your immune system. During this stage, your t-cell count lowers a noticeable amount. At this point, it is still possible to not notice any symptoms due to the virus.
The fifth stage are the Mild, Non-Specific Symptoms. At this point, the immune system has been damaged and many people will begin to experience symptoms like skin rashes, fatigue, slight weight loss, night sweats and thrush in the mouth. Many people will experience these symptoms before a more serious disease. The average person will live infected for five to seven years before experiencing their first mild symptom.
The last stage is the More Severe Symptoms; Opportunistic Infections and Diseases. This usually comes around in ten to eleven years from the contraction of the virus. At this stage many will contract many diseases or viruses that would normally be no threat, but since the immune system is weakened by AIDS, the diseases take a much greater toll on your body. Viruses like the common cold could become deadly to an infected person. This is the most devastating stage and is when most people will get too sick and probably won't survive.
There are ways to help prevent the contraction of AIDS or HIV. One of the most effective ways is to use a condom or a dental dam whenever you have sex. When used correctly, they are very effective in helping prevent the contraction of the virus. One thing to remember is, if you are going to rely on a condom, be sure to use latex condoms since lambskin products are not as effective in preventing the spread of the virus. And when using latex condoms do not combine them with oil or petroleum based lubricants, use only water-based lubricants. But of course, the only way to be completely safe from AIDS or HIV in your sex life is to practice abstinence.
Another way to help prevent the contraction of AIDS or HIV is to not share needles or syringes with anyone. Always use a clean and sterile needle or syringe. Although disinfecting previously used needles or syringes with bleach can help reduce the risk as well.
||||This site was created by Juan Espinoza in fulfillment of requirements for the course taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.|