HIV is a virus called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. In the early stages a blood test is the only way to know if you have it. A person infected with this virus is referred to as HIV positive. This virus, over time, can attack and severely weaken the immune system. This puts you at a high risk for any kind of infection. There are several stages of HIV infection. But at a certain point the patient is defined as having AIDS.
When someone is first infected with the HIV virus, there are usually no symptoms at all. It can take three to six weeks after being infected to start to show minor symptoms.
First Common Symptoms
The most common sign in the first stages of HIV infection is the presence of flu-like symptoms. This can include fever, headache and nausea. In many patients this may not be severe enough to seek medical attention. In the ones that do, they are not automatically checked for the HIV virus.
Other Common Early Symptoms
The only other early sign that a person may have the HIV virus is swollen glands. This occurs because the lymph nodes are active with the HIV virus, but the immune system has not weakened to a point that would cause concern. They may feel tired, have diarrhea and some weight loss.
While the symptoms above can occur, they are often not severe enough to create a concern that the person is HIV positive. After the initial infection, these symptoms will often disappear completely. After being infected, patients can go for ten years and even longer without showing symptoms at all.
Early AIDS Symptoms
By the time a patient is diagnosed with AIDS, the HIV virus has severely compromised the person's immune system. They will experience a multitude of symptoms such as night sweats and chills, persistent headaches, diarrhea, lesions in the tongue or mouth, and significant weight loss to name a few.