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HIV & AIDS Health Center

Symptoms & Types

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Here's where you can find out more about the signs and symptoms of HIV infection -- and the types of opportunistic infections and cancers linked to AIDS.


Learn about early and late symptoms of HIV and AIDS.


There's a progression of illness from HIV infection to AIDS. Here's a brief description.

Complications: AIDS and Other Health Problems

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the body's white blood cells -- specifically a subset called CD4 or helper T cells. This attack allows opportunistic infections to take advantage of a weakened immune system, and can lead to illnesses, cancers, or neurological problems.

Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a serious infection that causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs.

CMV can cause severe disease in people with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It's able to take advantage of a weakened immune system, which is why it's called an opportunistic infection.

Tuberculosis takes advantage of a weakened immune system, which is why it's called an opportunistic infection. Worldwide, tuberculosis is the leading cause of death for people infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency syndrome).

With HIV, MAC infection usually happens only after you receive a diagnosis of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and when CD4 cell counts drop below 50.

AIDS dementia complex is caused by the HIV virus itself, not by the opportunistic infections that occur commonly in the course of the disease. We do not know exactly how the virus damages brain cells.

AIDS wasting syndrome occurs when you have AIDS and lose at least 10% of your body weight -- especially muscle. You may also have at least 30 days of diarrhea or extreme weakness and fever that's not related to an infection.

People with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) have a weakened immune system. As a result, they are more likely to develop certain cancers. This includes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

Lipodystrophy is a problem with the way the body produces, uses, and stores fat. It is also called fat redistribution. Since the widespread use of antiretroviral therapy began, the numbers of HIV-positive people with lipodystrophy has increased.

Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer that mainly affects the skin, mouth, and lymph nodes -- infection-fighting glands -- but can also affect other organs such as the lungs and gastrointestinal tract.

A person who has HIV has difficulty fighting off other infections. You can help protect the person from infections.

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