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AIDS Symptoms

What is AIDS?

Without treatment, it may take a matter of months or years for HIV to weaken the immune system beyond repair. The progression of HIV to the late stage is referred to as AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This last stage of an HIV infection means that the body’s immune system is severely damaged, leaving it more susceptible to other infections that it would otherwise be able to fight off if it were not compromised and damaged. As such, it is not uncommon for individuals with AIDS to frequently get colds, flus or fungal infections. These are just some of the symptoms of AIDS.

What are the Symptoms of Aids in Men and Women

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Sores or ulcers in the mouth
  • Recurring fever
  • Recurring chills
  • Recurring night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Persistent or prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Memory loss, confusion or neurological disorders

Women may also experience the following symptoms for AIDS:

  • Vaginal infections, like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Signs of AIDS

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It’s the final, most severe stage of HIV infection. People with AIDS have badly damaged immune systems, making them vulnerable to certain opportunistic infections and cancers. Learn more about HIV symptoms that may lead to AIDS symptoms.

Symptoms of AIDS can include:

  • Persistent, unexplained tiredness
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Recurring fever
  • Chills
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pneumonia- such as coughing, shortness of breath, and fever
  • Sores on the mouth, genitals, or anus
  • Skin blotches and skin issues
  • Memory loss, depression, or other neurological problems

AIDS Wasting Syndrome

Wasting syndrome, also known as cachexia, is when a person involuntarily loses at least 10% of their body weight, especially muscle mass. It’s common in people with AIDS who aren’t being treated. Often, wasting is accompanied by weakness, fever, and diarrhea.

Wasting syndrome can make illness worse and increase the risk of death, so it’s important that people with HIV take antiretroviral medicine and eat well.7

Is AIDS an STD? How do you get AIDS?

AIDS is a chronic condition that is life-threatening and caused by HIV. HIV is a virus. AIDS is a disease. So, yes AIDS is an STD (sexually transmitted disease), but so is HIV since it can spread through sexual contact. You can become infected with HIV – that can lead to AIDS – by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person. Their vaginal secretions, semen, or blood may enter your body, causing the infection. The nonsexual ways that HIV is transmitted is through breastmilk, sharing needles, or transfusions with infected blood. 

HIV/AIDS Prevention

You can prevent an HIV infection by wearing condoms during vaginal, anal, and oral sex. There are oral dams specifically for oral sex. Also, getting an HIV RNA Early Detection Test or HIV 1 & 2 Antibody Test by yourself or with a new partner before you two have sex is a great way to find out if you have it, prevent further spread, or just give you peace of mind.

  2. "Comprehensive, Up-to-date Information on HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention from the University of California San Francisco." Ophthalmic Manifestations of HIV.
  3. "Symptoms of HIV."
  4. "Symptoms and Stages of HIV Infection." AVERT.
  5. "AIDSSigns and Symptoms." UCSF Medical Center.

Medically Reviewed by on June 5, 2023

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