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AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) / HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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MEN'S HEALTH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

WOMEN'S HEALTH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

AIDS/HIV AND IMMUNE SYSTEM

Immune System

Symptoms  

Symptoms of HIV in children

The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection. When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms at all, although it's more common to develop a brief flu-like illness two to six weeks after becoming infected. Because the symptoms of an initial infection — which may include fever, headache, sore throat, swollen lymph glands and rash — are similar to those of other diseases, you might not realize you've been infected with HIV.

Even if you don't have symptoms, you're still able to transmit the virus to others. Once the virus enters your body, your immune system also comes under attack. The virus multiplies in your lymph nodes and slowly begins to destroy your helper T cells (CD4 lymphocytes) — the white blood cells that coordinate your entire immune system.

You may remain symptom-free for 8 or 9 years or more. But the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells. Tests are likely to show a sharp decline in the number of these cells in your blood. Eventually, you may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms such as:

  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • fever
  • Cough and shortness of breath

During the last phase of HIV — which occurs approximately 10 or more years after the initial infection — more serious symptoms may begin to appear, and the infection may then meet the official definition of AIDS. In 1993 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) redefined AIDS to mean the presence of HIV infection as shown by a positive HIV-antibody test plus at least one of the following:

  • The development of an opportunistic infection — an infection that occurs when your immune system is impaired — such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
  • A CD4 lymphocyte count of 200 or less — a normal count ranges from 600 to 1,000

By the time AIDS develops, your immune system has been severely damaged, making you susceptible to opportunistic infections. The signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include:

  • Soaking night sweats
  • Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
  • Dry cough and shortness of breath
  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
  • Headaches
  • Blurred and distorted vision
  • Weight loss

You may also begin to experience signs and symptoms of later stage HIV infection itself, such as:

  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
  • Swelling of lymph nodes for more than three months
  • Chronic Diarrhea
  • Persistent headaches

If you're infected with HIV, you're also more likely to develop certain cancers, especially Kaposi's sarcoma, cervical cancer and lymphoma.

Symptoms of HIV in children

Children who are HIV-positive often fail to gain weight or grow normally. As the disease progresses, they may have difficulty walking or delayed mental development. In addition to being susceptible to the same opportunistic infections that adults are, children may also have severe forms of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections (otitis media), pneumonia and tonsillitis.

Children who are HIV-positive often fail to gain weight or grow normally. As the disease progresses, they may have difficulty walking or delayed mental development. In addition to being susceptible to the same opportunistic infections that adults are, children may also have severe forms of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections (otitis media), pneumonia and tonsillitis.

The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of infections that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. These are called opportunistic infections.  

Patients with AIDS have had their immune system depleted by HIV and are very susceptible to such opportunistic infections. Common symptoms are fevers, sweats (particularly at night), swollen glands, chills, weakness, and weight loss.

See the signs and tests section below for a list of common opportunistic infections and major symptoms associated with them.

Note: Initial infection may produce no symptoms. Some people with HIV infection remain without symptoms for years between the time of exposure and development of AIDS. However, some people develop what feels like flu about two weeks after contracting the virus.  

Signs and tests   

The following is a list of AIDS-related infections and cancers that people with AIDS acquire as their CD4 count decreases. Previously, having AIDS was defined by having HIV infection and acquiring one of these additional diseases, but now it is simply defined as a CD4 count below 200. Many other illnesses and corresponding symptoms may develop in addition to those listed here.

Common with CD4 count below 350/ml:

  • Herpes simplex virus -- causes ulcers in the mouth or genitals, occurring more frequently and more severely than previously
  • Tuberculosis -- infection by the tuberculosis bacteria that predominately affects the lungs
  • Oral or vaginal thrush -- yeast infection of the mouth or genitals
  • Herpes zoster -- ulcers over a discrete patch of skin caused by this virus
  • Non-Hodgkins lymphoma -- cancer of the lymph glands  

CD4 count below 200/ml

  • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, "PCP pneumonia"
  • Candida esophagitis -- painful yeast infection of the esophagus

CD4 count below 100/ml

  • Cryptococcal meningitis -- infection of the brain by this fungus
  • AIDS dementia -- worsening and slowing of mental function caused by HIV itself
  • Toxoplasmosis encephalitis -- infection of the brain by this parasite, which is frequently found in cat feces
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy -- a viral disease of the brain caused by a virus (called the JC virus) that results in a quick decline in cognitive and motor functions
  • Wasting syndrome -- extreme weight loss and anorexia caused by HIV

CD4 count below 50/ml

  • Mycobacterium avium -- a blood infection by a bacterium related to tuberculosis
  • Cytomegalovirus infection -- a viral infection that can affect almost any organ system, especially the eyes  

In addition to the CD4 lymphocyte count, chest x-rays, Pap smears, and other tests are useful in managing HIV disease. Persons who engage in receptive anal sex may wish to consider anal Pap smears to detect potential cancers.

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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