Soft signs of HIV in­fec­tion

The Manica Post - - Health/ Religion - Dr Zuze

KNOW­ING your HIV sta­tus is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Get­ting an HIV test, while scary, is the ideal way to tell if you are in­fected or not. Be­low, how­ever, are some of the softer early signs and symp­toms of HIV in­fec­tion.


The fever, if it oc­curs at all, is of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by other usu­ally mild symp­toms, such as fa­tigue, swollen lymph glands, and a sore throat a few weeks after in­fec­tion.

At this point the virus is mov­ing into the blood stream and start­ing to repli­cate in large num­bers. As that hap­pens, there is an in­flam­ma­tory re­ac­tion by the im­mune sys­tem. Fa­tigue:

The in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse gen­er­ated by your be­sieged im­mune sys­tem also can cause you to feel tired and lethar­gic. Fa­tigue can be both an early and later sign of HIV.

Achy mus­cles, joint pains and swollen lymph nodes: Acute se­ro­con­ver­sion syn­drome, which oc­curs a few weeks after HIV in­fec­tion, is of­ten mis­taken for the flu, or an­other vi­ral ill­ness.

That's not sur­pris­ing: Many of the symp­toms are the same, in­clud­ing pain in the joints and mus­cles and swollen lymph glands. Lymph nodes are part of your body's im­mune sys­tem and tend to get in­flamed when there's an in­fec­tion. Many of them are lo­cated in your armpit, groin, and neck.

Skin rash:

Skin rashes can oc­cur early or late in the course of HIV and AIDS. If you get rashes that are not eas­ily ex­plained or treated, you should think about an HIV test. Nau­sea, vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea:

Any­where from 30 to 60 per­cent of peo­ple have short-term nau­sea, vom­it­ing, or di­ar­rhoea in the early stages of in­fec­tion. These symp­toms can also ap­pear as a re­sult of anti-retro­vi­ral ther­apy and later in the in­fec­tion, usu­ally as the re­sult of an op­por­tunis­tic in­fec­tion.

Weight loss: Weight loss is a sign of more ad­vanced ill­ness and could be due in part to se­vere di­ar­rhoea. The weight loss needs to be un­in­ten­tional and more that 10 per­cent of body weight lost for it to be sig­nif­i­cant. Less of this is be­ing seen now due to anti-retro­vi­ral ther­apy.

Dry cough:

This can go on for months and might keep get­ting worse. In­halers, an­tibi­otics and al­lergy med­i­ca­tions may be used with­out im­prove­ment. This sort of cough is typ­i­cal in very ill HIV pa­tients. Some­times a chronic cough might be from an op­por­tunis­tic in­fec­tion like Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis (TB) or pneu­mo­nia.

Night sweats:

About half of peo­ple get night sweats dur­ing the early stages of HIV in­fec­tion.

These can be even more com­mon later in in­fec­tion and aren't re­lated to ex­er­cise or the tem­per­a­ture of the room. These are usu­ally se­ri­ous sweats that soak your night­clothes and sheets. Sweat­ing can also be a sign of in­fec­tions like TB and some can­cers.

Nail changes: An­other sign of late HIV in­fec­tion are nail changes, such as thick­en­ing and curv­ing of the nails, split­ting of the nails, or dis­coloura­tion to a grey­ish colour. Nail changes may also be due to fun­gal nail in­fec­tions which are more com­mon in ad­vanced in­fec­tion.

Oral thrush: An­other fun­gal in­fec­tion that's com­mon in later stages is thrush, a mouth in­fec­tion caused by Can­dida, a type of yeast.

It ap­pears in the mouth or oe­soph­a­gus mak­ing it hard to swal­low. When you have thrush, you will find white patches on the tongue or walls of the mouth that can be dif­fi­cult to get rid of. Con­fu­sion or dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing: Cog­ni­tive prob­lems could be a sign of HIV-re­lated de­men­tia, which usu­ally oc­curs late in the course of the dis­ease.

In ad­di­tion to con­fu­sion and dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing, AIDS-re­lated de­men­tia might also in­volve mem­ory prob­lems and be­havioural is­sues such as anger or ir­ri­tabil­ity. It may even in­clude mo­tor

changes: Be­com­ing clumsy, lack of co­or­di­na­tion, and prob­lems with tasks re­quir­ing fine mo­tor skills such as writ­ing by hand.

Cold sores or gen­i­tal her­pes: Cold sores (oral her­pes) and gen­i­tal her­pes can be a sign of both early and late-stage HIV in­fec­tion. And hav­ing her­pes can also be a risk fac­tor for con­tract­ing HIV. This is be­cause gen­i­tal her­pes can cause ul­cers that make it eas­ier for HIV to en­ter the body dur­ing sex. And peo­ple who have HIV tend to have more se­vere her­pes out­breaks more of­ten be­cause HIV weak­ens the im­mune sys­tem.

Numb­ness and weak­ness: Late HIV can also cause numb­ness and tin­gling in the hands and feet.

This is called pe­riph­eral neu­ropa­thy, which also oc­curs in peo­ple with un­con­trolled di­a­betes. Nerve dam­age from HIV can also cause burn­ing feet at night.

Men­strual ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties: HIV dis­ease ap­pears to in­crease the risk of hav­ing men­strual ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, such as fewer and lighter pe­ri­ods.

HIV in­fec­tion has also been as­so­ci­ated with ear­lier on­set of menopause.

Many of the prob­lems above are non­spe­cific and can be from a lot of other things. If you are wor­ried about HIV in­fec­tion please visit your doc­tor.

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