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HIV & AIDS Health Center

HIV & AIDS Overview

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV/AIDS weakens a person's ability to fight infections. It is contracted through unprotected sex or needle sharing. An HIV test confirms diagnosis. Medications may suppress the virus and delay the onset of AIDS.

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Mississippi Girl Thought Cured of HIV Shows Signs of Infection
Mississippi Girl Thought Cured of HIV Shows Signs of Infection

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS Symptoms

Many people do not develop symptoms after getting infected with HIV. Others have a flu-like illness within several days to weeks after exposure to the virus. They complain of fever, headache, tiredness, and enlarged lymph glands in the neck. These symptoms usually disappear on their own within a few weeks.

  • Following initial infection, you may have no symptoms. The progression of disease varies widely among individuals. This state may last from a few months to more than 10 years.

    • During this period, the virus continues to multiply actively and infects and kills the cells of the immune system. The immune system allows us to fight against the bacteria, viruses, and other infectious causes.

    • The virus destroys the cells that are the primary infection fighters, called CD4+ or T4 cells.
  • Once the immune system weakens, a person infected with HIV can develop the following symptoms:

    • Lack of energy

    • Weight loss

    • Frequent fevers and sweats

    • Persistent or frequent yeast infections

    • Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin

    • Short-term memory loss

    • Mouth, genital, or anal sores from herpes infections.

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