When a person acquires the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), they do not immediately develop signs and symptoms of an infection. When you are infected with HIV, your body will typically go through three stages.
The First Stage (Acute HIV Infection)
Most people at this stage do not have any idea that they have acquired HIV. The symptoms of the first stage may appear between two to six weeks later and can include headache, sore throat, low-grade fever, sore muscles, and fatigue. Some people may develop a faint rash around the groin and genitals that may last a few days. This is the stage when the body is producing antibodies to HIV.
The Second Stage (Chronic HIV Infection)
During this stage, the virus is multiplying and attacking the immune system. Most people do not have any symptoms during this stage. This chronic stage can last anywhere from 6 to 10 years.
The Third Stage (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
This is considered to be the advanced stage of HIV. At this point, the immune system of the person is severely damaged. Common symptoms include:
- Lack of appetite.
- Swollen glands in the neck or groin.
- Night sweats.
- Skin lesions or dark spots.
- Numbness, tingling, confusion, or loss of memory.
- Recurrent candida/thrush infections
Regular HIV testing can detect the virus early and HIV medication can help manage an infection.