The three stages of transition from HIV to AIDS

Main HIV stages 

      The development of symptoms of HIV infection in men and women depends on the amount of virus in the blood. HIV infection progresses slowly, but steadily. 
      
1.  Initial Stages of HIV
Incubation period, the time between contraction of HIV virus and the actual appearance of early symptoms, can last several days or weeks. Flu-like symptoms are absolutely normal during the first stage of infection, which is called as the acute retroviral syndrome. These symptoms are often mistaken for those of other viral infections, flu etc. They typically include the following early symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the front of the neck, armpits and groin
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Sore throat
  • Weight loss


These early symptoms of HIV infection can range from mild to severe and usually disappear on their own after 2 - 3 weeks.

2.  Chronic Stages of HIV
      Once a person is infected with HIV, sometimes it may take many years for the person to develop other symptoms and signs of the disease. When the disease becomes active, patients often complain of fatigue or a general feeling of being sick during this stage of the disease. A doctor may suspect primary HIV infection if symptoms persist or if a cause of the symptoms (such as the flu) cannot be identified. HIV may also be suspected when several of the following symptoms are present:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Diarrhea or other bowel changes
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nail changes
  • Heavy sweating at night
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Personality changes
  • Frequent outbreaks of herpes simplex sores
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling sensation, numbness and weakness in the limbs
  • Weight loss
  • Thrush in women

Moreover, HIV infection may be suspected in a woman if she has at least one of the following symptoms:

  • More than three vaginal infections in one year that are not associated with the use of antibiotics
  • Recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Abnormal Pap smear results or cervical cancer


Children with HIV often have different symptoms (for example, growth retardation or frequent episodes of increased irritability and aggression) than adolescents or adults.

3. The Latter Stages of HIV
      The disease progresses rapidly to AIDS during the last stage of HIV infection. Some of the HIV symptoms in men and women include fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, fever, night sweats, and thrush. During this period one may develop opportunistic infections - certain infections or diseases, such as pneumonia or cancer, due to the fact that the immune system starts to weaken. Look at the pictures of people with AIDS.

       If HIV is left untreated, AIDS develops in most people within 3 - 15 years. However, with treatment of HIV, its transition to AIDS may be substantially delayed. But, unfortunately, completely preventing it is not possible yet…