Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is characterized by a decrease in the protective functions of the body due to the low content of cells responsible for the immune system – in particular, CD-4 lymphocytes.
It is they who are affected by HIV, however, referring to the group of “slow” viruses, it lets know about itself soon. Usually, from the moment of infection and before the first signs of AIDS appear, dozens of years past.
Stages of HIV infection
The incubation period is 3-6 weeks.
Acute febrile phase – occurs after the incubation period, but does not manifest in 30-50% of HIV-infected people.
Asymptomatic period – 10 – 15 years (on average).
Deployed stage – AIDS.
In 10% of patients, fulminant HIV infection is observed, when the condition worsens sharply immediately after the incubation period.
In the acute febrile stage, the infection manifests itself as nonspecific symptoms, such as headache, sore throat, muscle and/or joint pain, fever (usually subfebrile – up to 37.5 C), nausea, diarrhea, swelling of lymph nodes.
Often, the first signs of HIV infection (AIDS should not be called this condition) are confused with catarrhal diseases or malaise on the basis of stress or overwork.
It is recommended to take an HIV test if the following disorders occur:
The elevated temperature for more than 1 week for an unidentified cause;
An increase in lymph nodes (inguinal, cervical, axillary) in the absence of an inflammatory process in the body;
Diarrhea, not passing a few weeks; signs of candidiasis (thrush) of the oral cavity;
Extensive herpes or its nonspecific localization;
Sudden weight loss for no apparent reason.
An immunodeficiency virus test should also be taken if unsafe sex or blood transfusion occurred. The antibodies to which the analysis is sensitive begin to be produced 4and24 weeks after infection, before which the test result may not be indicative.
Characteristic signs of AIDS
The most difficult stage in the development of HIV infection is AIDS: it lasts from six months to 2 years and proceeds in different forms:
At the end of the asymptomatic period, the cell number of lymphocytes CD-4 (the immune status, which HIV-positive patients check every 3-6 months to control the course of the disease) decreases to 200 / l, while the normal value is 500 – 1200 / l.
At this stage, AIDS begins, and its first signs are diseases caused by opportunistic infections (conditionally pathogenic human flora).
Microorganisms living in the body do not harm a healthy person, but for an HIV-infected patient with a weakened immune system, these pathogens are very dangerous.
The patient complains of pharyngitis, otitis, sinusitis, which recur and are poorly treated.
The immune system of a patient with HIV does not control the amount of pathogenic microflora. Breeding, bacteria cause the corresponding acute inflammatory diseases.
The symptoms of AIDS in women and men are the same. The exception is secondary diseases of the urogenital system and these differences are due to the physiological structure of the genital organs.
The intestinal form of the course of AIDS is manifested against the background of reproduction of Salmonella, cytomegalovirus, Candida fungi.
The first symptoms may be:
The first sign of AIDS is considered to be poor healing of wounds and cuts. Any scratch in such patients eventually begins to fester and bleed.
Rapid weight loss.
With pulmonary AIDS, the respiratory tract affects a special type of infection – Pneumocystis pneumonia. It is similar to usual pneumonia but proceeds in a more severe form.
External signs of AIDS appeared in the form of skin rashes:
Herpes – extensive and in non-specific places;
Shingles – painful blisters;
Oral thrush – white curd discharge;
Hairy leukoplakia of the oral cavity – white plaques on the sides of the tongue.
At the next stage of the course of HIV infection, the above main signs and symptoms of AIDS are complemented by a significant loss of body weight (more than 10% of the total weight).
AIDS can cause meningitis, encephalitis and malignant brain tumours.
With the defeat of the skin and mucous membranes on the body of the patient, multiple erosion and ulcers appear, which, when infected, grow and penetrate into the muscle tissue.
A patient may experience:
Severe AIDS is also accompanied by serious neurological disorders.