HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by RNA retroviruses: HIV-1 and HIV-2.
It is also known as silent infection because the HIV Symptoms are asymptomatic in the initial stages (also known as latent phase).
Sexually transmitted diseases are the diseases that can spread easily through a sexual intercourse with an infected person, from mother to child during pregnancy and during breast-feeding.
The other sexually transmitted diseases are gonorrhea, genital warts, syphilis, and pelvic inflammatory diseases.
It is found that, in the United States, approximately forty thousand new HIV infection cases develop yearly and about half of the adults suffering with HIV virus are women.
When you first get infected with HIV virus, it initially affects the T-Cell (a type of white blood cell) and multiplies the T-cells to produce several copies of it. Thus, the virus can spread easily.
In this initial stage of infection, you may develop no or very few HIV symptoms. So, if you develop early HIV symptoms then it occurs within six to twelve weeks after you get infected with HIV virus.
In some cases, you may take several years (after you get infected) to develop HIV symptoms. It may take 1-10 years before the virus cause AIDS.
As HIV virus is asymptomatic for several years, it is good to have tests for HIV infection to identify the virus in your body instead of waiting for the HIV symptoms to develop.
With HIV virus, at first, you may develop flu-like symptoms that include fever, skin complaints, sore throat, swollen glands, swollen lymph nodes, headache, nausea and vomiting, joint pains and muscles pains. Most of these symptoms disappear after some weeks.
When the HIV virus spreads, it eventually affects several parts of your body. When the HIV virus attacks your immune system (a system that fight against the foreign organisms that enters the body), the system becomes weak and more vulnerable to infections.
Thus, it develops a condition called AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Remember that it takes 10-15 years for HIV virus to cause AIDS.
It also reduces the infection fighting cells in your body, which in turn may lead to several serious illnesses and infections.
Therefore, you may develop infections of the mouth, mouth ulcers, eye infection, skin problems, infection to the brain, pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB), herpes infection and gastrointestinal tract infections.
The HIV virus can also affect the gastro-intestinal system where you may develop HIV symptoms that include loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, tiredness and diarrhea.
On the other hand, when the virus attacks the respiratory system then you may develop respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath and severe dry cough.
You may also experience HIV symptoms such as skin injuries that may appear red, brown, pink or purple, depression, numbness or burning sensation in the hands or legs.
Remember that all these HIV symptoms occur before you develop AIDS. Although you develop any of these symptoms, never assume that you are infected with HIV virus unless you get tested.