If HIV is not treated, it will develop into a stage of infection known as AIDS in all but a few rare cases. When the immune system is impaired, the body’s ability to protect itself against potentially life-threatening infections is harmed.
Within six months, the majority of patients have an undetectable viral load. If this is not possible, any partners can be safeguarded by taking a drug known as preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). To aid prevent transmission, condoms should also be used.
Some persons develop a nonspecific syndrome with a fever and other flu-like symptoms 2–4 weeks after being exposed to the virus. This could last a few days or weeks.
HIV and AIDS: An Overview
If no medical intervention is made, it takes around five to ten years to progress from HIV infection to AIDS. Time differences can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
The HIV genetic strain with which an infected person has been infected some of which may be more or less virulent than others.
The individual’s overall health
The address of a person’s residence includes healthcare access and the incidence of other diseases or infections.
The genetics or family history of a person
Tobacco use and other personal lifestyle decisions
Of course, this is only true if the person is not treated. If they do, the entire picture changes.
Antiretroviral medications have substantially altered the natural development of HIV infection since their introduction in 1996. While HIV cannot be cured, those newly diagnosed with HIV who are treated and remain in care can expect to have lives that are close to normal. Early identification, as with other chronic diseases, is critical for detecting and treating the virus as soon as feasible.
HIV Infection Stages
Infection phases differ slightly from person to person, both in severity and pace of progression. As the body’s defenses deteriorate, these stages chart the depletion of immune cells known as CD4 T-cells.
The danger of opportunistic infections (OIs) grows with each advancement until the immune system is said to be completely weakened. The risk of disease and mortality is extremely significant at this stage.
The stages of infection can be loosely divided into the following categories:
Fever, tiredness, swollen tonsils, sore throat, diarrhea, or rash are common symptoms of acute infection. These symptoms appear soon after exposure and might linger for up to two weeks.
Infection that lasts a long time
After the immune system has dealt with the original infection, the virus hides in cellular reservoirs, undetected by immune defenses.
In some people, this chronic or latent stage of infection can linger for years, even decades, until the concealed viruses are reactivated most often when the immune system is fully compromised and later-stage OI develops.
Technically, the stage is defined as having either an AIDS-defining illness or a CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells per milliliter.
An AIDS diagnosis does not guarantee that a person will become ill or die. Even if a person’s CD4 count is below 100 cells per milliliter, starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) can restore immune function, sometimes to near-normal to normal levels.