HIV, known as the human immunodeficiency virus, threatens the body’s immune system and is transmitted by blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, and other bodily fluids that may be transmitted sexually. This is different than other viruses because the immune system cannot clear the HIV virus out of your body- unlike other viruses which your body eventually flushes out. This means when you have contracted HIV, you have it for life. The symptoms of HIV can hide for long periods of time and slowly attack parts of your immune system. The body’s immune system is made up of T-cells and CD4 cells; however, HIV invades these cells to make copies of itself and then destroys them. Eventually, after enough cells have been destroyed, your body cannot fight infections and diseases anymore.
With proper treatment, persons with HIV can avoid progressing to AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS is the final stage of the HIV infection, but not everyone who has HIV advances to this stage. Some signs and symptoms of HIV vary based on the stage, but many HIV positive people do not have any symptoms or even feel sick until they progress towards AIDS.
Symptoms can include:
- Fever (most common)
- Sore Throat
- Muscle and Joint aches