hiv virusLiving with HIV or any illness or disease is crippling. With HIV/AIDS how do you know if you’re infected?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus also known as HIV develops in phases or stages. Depending on symptoms and the extent to which the disease has spread will determine the level or stage of the disease in your body.

These so called stages occur sequentially and with them certain side effects or symptoms are experienced.

The first stage is referred to as acute retroviral syndrome this phase is where the disease is already in the body. Depending on the person key indicators of the virus can occur from the onset of the infection or after a few weeks of exposure to the virus. The warning signs that you are living with HIV include: nausea sometimes vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever and even headaches. This could pass as a bug and might not even be considered to be HIV. However as the body tries to fight the virus the lymph nodes will appear larger. Sometimes aching and discomfort within the entire body can be felt. These signs fade after a few weeks therefore it can easily be mistaken for a common viral infection or perhaps even flu; the only way you will know that you are infected with HIV is to take a test at the doctors.

The following stage is the chronic stage however; despite the virus being present in the body a clear indication of the disease is not always apparent. Some people only notice after years of being infected that their immunity is low. But very few people suspect to have HIV. Clear indicators of a second stage infection include sudden weight loss, lack of desire for food, fatigue. The body fails to fight any warning signs successfully due to the virus destroying the white cells that prevent the body from falling ill. Therefore other warning signs such as abnormal colouring of finger nails, sores developing in the mouth and shortness of breath are a few signs that the body’s immunity is low. To understand the full effect that HIV has on the body, you need to imagine that all of the healthy cells that usually destroy any foreign bodies such as typical cold for example, are no longer able to do so because HIV is obliterating these so called white cells. So in effect the body looses its immunity and it is therefore prone to massive attack by foreign bodies.

The last stage which is also referred to as the late stage is known when you have contracted AIDS. You are known to have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome when your white cell count is lower than 200. These white cells are called CD4 cells and they determine the strength of your immune system. The less white cells found in your body the lower your immunity and therefore the higher the exposure to infection and disease. It is mentioned that people do not often die of AIDS but of AIDS related illnesses such as Cancer or Pneumonia. The body’s resistance from the initial phase of HIV to the last stage of developing AIDS can take over ten years to accomplish. The time span varies from person to person and it depends on whether or not antiretroviral treatment is used.

The treatment of HIV/AIDS is most successful should it be administered in the early stage of the viral infection. Leaving it too late may not boost the immune system quickly enough to make a full recovery. By taking out a life cover policy or joining a medical aid scheme for HIV positive people as well as testing for HIV regularly and by knowing your body and treating it with respect will save you in the long run.