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Stages of HIV to AIDS

Acute HIV Infection (Acute Illness) Stage

Within 2 – 4 weeks after infection with HIV, people may experience a flu-like illness, which may last for a few weeks. This is the body’s natural response to infection. When people have acute HIV infection, they have a large amount of virus in their blood and are very contagious. But people with acute infection are often unaware that they’re infected because they may not feel sick right away or at all. During this early period of infection, large amounts of virus are being produced in your body. The virus uses CD4 cells to replicate and destroys them in the process. Because of this, CD4 cells can fall rapidly. At HIV infection stage, patient is at very high risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual or needle-sharing partners because the levels of HIV in their blood stream are extremely high.

Clinical Latency (Asymptomatic Period) Stage

This period also called asymptomatic HIV infection. During this phase, the HIV virus continues to reproduce at very low levels, even if it cannot be detected with standard laboratory tests. If patient is able to aware that at early stage and start having medical treatment, they may live with clinical latency for decades and never progress to AIDS because treatment helps keep the virus in check.

People in this symptom-free stage are still able to transmit HIV to others but the risk of transmission is greatly reduced by HIV treatment.

At the end of this phase, a person’s viral load starts to go up and the CD4 cell count begins to go down. As this happens, the person may begin to have symptoms as the virus levels increase in the body, and the person moves into Stage 3.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) – Advance Infection

AIDS is the most severe phase of HIV infection. People with AIDS have such badly damaged immune systems that they get an increasing number of severe illnesses. Without treatment, people with AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Common symptoms of AIDS include chills, fever, sweats, swollen lymph glands, weakness, and weight loss. People are diagnosed with AIDS when their CD4 cell count drops below 200 cells/mm or if they develop certain opportunistic illnesses. People with AIDS can have a high viral load and be very infectious.

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