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Symptoms ... Or Not, of HIV and AIDS

By HERWriter
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Before doctors and scientists knew what HIV/AIDS was, what caused it, and how the disease was transmitted, they began noticing a rising trend of symptoms normally associated with immunocompromised conditions in communities of gay men.

Eventually, these came to be known as opportunistic infections -- symptoms of AIDS and signs that a patient is losing the battle against the virus. But it wasn’t until much later in the epidemic and investigation process that researchers became fully aware of the long life-cycle of the virus before any of these symptoms appear.

Let’s start at the beginning.

As mentioned in the previous article, HIV/AIDS are what is called a lentivirus -- a slow-acting virus with a period of latency that allows it to hide, undetected or ignored, for a long time in your blood. It is hard to conceptualize a killer disease with no symptoms, but at least at first, this is what HIV is.

Immediately after infection, you are unlikely to experience any symptoms or feelings of sickness at all. This is one of the factors that made it difficult for researchers in the 1980s to identify the disease’s mode of transmission.

Moreover, it is one of the things that continues to make HIV so dangerous -- someone who seems to be healthy may actually be carrying the virus! And unless you are only engaging in sexual activity with one person (and they are also practicing monogamy) it can be difficult to know exactly who gave you the disease.


About 4 to 6 weeks after you are infected, you may experience some light flu-like symptoms. These include a fever, headache, sore throat, rash, swollen lymph glands, or feeling tired and generally achy. Often, these vague complaints go unnoticed, or they are attributed to some other common illness or stress.

After this point, the HIV virus goes into hiding and you can live for up to 10 years without any adverse medical effects or indication that you are sick. But you CAN still transmit the disease to others. And you ARE still sick.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Scary s#it! If one decides that it is time to check oneself on HIV what's the best route to follow? Go to my provider and ask for an HIV bloodtest? How much would it cost and do health insurance companies cover the costs, or are there clinics that provide free of charge HIV tests?

-Mordechai B.

September 26, 2011 - 7:31pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Well, you are already following a fantastic route by thinking that it is a good idea to get tested! Kudos to you.

As far as where to get tested - almost all providers should be able to administer the simple blood test, and depending on your insurance plan, the test should be relatively inexpensive or free.

There are also a lot of places that offer free testing. Check out the National HIV and STD Testing site here: http://www.hivtest.org/. If you are stuck and need help finding a testing spot, don't hesitate to message me and I can help you find a location near you.

And tell your friends to be as smart as you - get tested now! I guarantee that your partner(s) will appreciate it.

September 27, 2011 - 5:44pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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