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Some people may develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after exposure to the HIV virus, although, many people do not develop any symptoms at all when they first become infected. In addition, the symptoms that do appear, which usually disappear within a week to a month, are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. These may include:
Enlarged lymph nodes
Persistent or severe symptoms may not surface for 10 years or more, after HIV first enters the body in adults, or within two years in children born with an HIV infection. This "asymptomatic" period of the infection is highly variable from person to person. But, during the asymptomatic period, HIV is actively infecting and killing cells of the immune system. Its most obvious effect is a decline in the blood levels of CD4+ T cells (also called T4 cells)—the immune system's key infection fighters. The virus initially disables or destroys these cells without causing symptoms.
As the immune system deteriorates, complications begin to surface. The following are the most common complications, or symptoms, of AIDS. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Lymph nodes that remain enlarged for more than three months
Lack of energy
Frequent fevers and sweats
Persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal)
Persistent skin rashes or flaky skin
Pelvic inflammatory disease that does not respond to treatment
Short-term memory loss
One or more infections (opportunistic infections) related to having a diminished immune system, such as tuberculosis and certain types of pneumonia
Some people develop frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital, or anal sores, or a painful nerve disease known as shingles. Children may have delayed development or failure to thrive.
During the course of the HIV infection, most people experience a gradual decline in the number of CD4+ T cells, although some individuals may have abrupt and dramatic drops in their counts.
The symptoms of an HIV infection may resemble other medical conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.