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.
Women may also experience the following symptoms for 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:
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
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.
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.
Medically Reviewed by J. Frank Martin JR., MD on June 8, 2022Written by Alexa Amador on January 25, 2017