Do I Have AIDS? Symptoms of AIDS
Do I Have AIDS? Symptoms
Hi, my name is
[PRESENTER NAME]. IÕm [PRESENTER ROLE].
Welcome to ÒDo I Have AIDS? Symptoms of AIDS.Ó
This video will discuss some of the symptoms of AIDS, which is a later stage of HIV disease. Our hope is that some people who have developed AIDS but do not yet realize it may watch this video and see a doctor to be evaluated. We also hope that people will encourage friends who are experiencing these symptoms to see a doctor as well.
It's important to realize that watching a video is no substitute for seeing a doctor and being evaluated in person. If you are feeling ill, please make an appointment to see a doctor and be evaluated in person. Regular medical checkups are an important way to diagnose many potentially serious conditions early.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is a disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus begins attacking the personÕs immune system. Between 40 and 90% of individuals will briefly experience symptoms of HIV infection shortly after they are first infected.1 Our video "Did I Just Contract HIV? Symptoms of Primary HIV Infection" explains these initial symptoms.
Many people do not recognize symptoms of primary HIV infection. Even if they do, they and their doctor usually don't realize that HIV is the cause, and the symptoms quickly disappear. For many years, the person infected with HIV may show no symptoms of being ill. In the developed world, HIV positive people look and feel healthy for 10 years on average before they develop symptoms of AIDS, and some for much longer. A person can be infected with HIV and not even know it.
It can take up to six months after being infected with HIV for ordinary tests to show that you are HIV positive. After a person has contracted HIV, even before they test positive, itÕs possible for them to pass on the virus to others. Our video "Brief Introduction to HIV and AIDS" discusses how HIV is transmitted and how to reduce your risk of contracting or transmitting it.
When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus begins attacking the personÕs immune system, specifically their white blood cells called CD4 cells. The uninfected individual has about 800 to 1000 CD4 cells.
If HIV does enough damage to the personÕs immune system, the personÕs CD4 cells will fall to a low level where they become vulnerable to infections that a healthy personÕs immune system would fight off. Without antiretroviral therapy and other medications, the person may die as a result.
A person's diagnosis changes from HIV to AIDS when either their CD4 cells fall below 200 or they develop an infection that takes advantage of their weakened immune system, called an opportunistic infection.
So what are some of the symptoms that people with AIDS commonly experience? According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2, the symptoms include:
* "rapid weight loss"
* "dry cough"
* "recurring fever or profuse night sweats"
* "profound and unexplained fatigue"
* "swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck"
* "diarrhea that lasts for more than a week"
* "white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat"
* "red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids"
* "memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders"
If you have one or more of these symptoms, does it necessarily mean you are infected with HIV or have developed AIDS? No. Many common diseases can cause one or more of these symptoms. For example, most people with a fever or sore throat are probably just experiencing common illnesses such as the cold, influenza, or mononucleosis. So donÕt panic. But if you have any of these symptoms and think thereÕs even the slightest chance you might ever have been exposed to HIV, you should see a doctor and ask to be tested for HIV.
If you have none of these symptoms, does it prove youÕre not infected with HIV? No. So donÕt assume youÕre HIV negative just because youÕve never experienced symptoms of primary HIV infection or AIDS. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all adults be tested for HIV at a routine doctor's office visit regardless of whether they feel they are at risk for HIV.3
When you go to the doctor with any of these symptoms, itÕs very important to mention any risk factors you may have for HIV and ASK to be tested. Doctors may not think to test a patient for HIV even though the CDC recommends it. If you have ever had unprotected sex even once, used injection drugs, or think you might be experiencing primary HIV infection, make sure to tell your doctor and ASK to be tested for HIV.
So protect yourself and those
around you. If you havenÕt been tested for HIV already, get tested. If youÕre
sexually active, practice safer sex to reduce your risk. And if you think you
may have been exposed to HIV and are having symptoms similar to AIDS, donÕt
delay; go to the doctor right away and ask to be tested today for HIV. This is
This script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on June 28, 2008.
Marcus Altfeld and Bruce D. Walker, ÒAcute HIV-1 Infection,Ó HIV Medicine, 14th Ed., 2006.
" How can I tell if I'm infected with HIV? What are the symptoms?" United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed 21 June 2008. Last updated 22 January 2007.
Bernard Branson, et al. "Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings." MMWR Recommendations and Reports, 22 Sept 06, 55(RR14); 1-17.
Center for AIDS, ÒPrimary HIV Infection,Ó April 2004.