AIDS and HIV symptoms: What is virus infection that causes flu-like signs?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) damages the cells in the immune system, and makes it more difficult to fight common, everyday infections and diseases.

If the HIV virus damages the immune system enough, it can lead to life-threatening infections and illnesses, known as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

Most people infected with HIV endure flu-like symptoms for no more than two weeks.

But, the virus can then lie silently within the body for years, damaging the immune system without any visible effects.

Symptoms of HIV include a fever, sore throat and a body rash. It could also lead to tiredness, joint pain, muscle pain and swollen glands, according to the NHS.

After the initial symptoms disappear, the virus continues to be active, and slowly attacks the immune system. 

The amount of time it takes for the immune system to become severely damaged varies from person to person, but it can take up to 10 years. During that period, the patient will feel completely normal.

After the immune system is severely damaged, symptoms can include recurrent infections, night sweats, weight loss, chronic diarrhoea and skin conditions.

“HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system - the body’s defence against diseases,” said the National AIDS Trust.

“HIV stays in the body for life, but treatments can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy.

“AIDS is the most advanced stage of an HIV infection, when the immune system can no longer fight infections.

“Someone with AIDS has both HIV, and at least one of a specific list of ‘AIDS-defining’ diseases, which include tuberculosis, pneumonia and some types of cancer.”

The most common of becoming infected with HIV is by having unprotected sex.

Sharing needles or syringes could also increase the risk of infection, while mothers can transmit the virus to their children by breastfeeding.

Almost 90,000 people received specialist HIV care in the UK, in 2015.

Across the UK, 91 per cent of care was received in England, while 46 per cent of those were in London.



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