HIV is transmitted from person-to-person from contact with infected blood, semen and/or vaginal fluid. Having unprotected sex vaginal or anal sex (or oral sex if you have a cut or open sore in your mouth) with an infected partner greatly increases the risk of contracting HIV. HIV can also be transmitted via unsterile drug use, from using infected needles, syringes or drug equipment.
In 2014, the CDC reported that there were 44,073 new cases of HIV in the United States. Of those cases, 35,571 were diagnosed in men or adolescent males; a total of more than 80 percent of all new HIV cases are in men.
In the U.S., HIV is most prevalent in men who have sex with men, gay men and bisexual men, however it is also racially prevalent among black heterosexual men.
HIV symptoms will vary from case to case, but the following are the most common patterns HIV infections follow.
Upon infection, it may take individuals with HIV 2-4 weeks to exhibit symptoms. Often these symptoms are mistaken for a common cold or flu, rather than HIV. Approximately 80 percent of individuals with an acute HIV infection will experience flu-like symptoms. That being said, sometimes it can take years for symptoms to appear. This is why it is so important for you and your partner to always get tested before beginning a new sexual relationship. Getting tested for HIV helps individuals seek needed treatment sooner and helps to stop the spread of the virus to others.
There are varying symptoms of HIV in men depending upon the stage of the disease they are in: Acute HIV stage (new infection stage); asymptomatic stage; and the latest, advanced stage known as AIDS.
The most common HIV symptoms in men in this stage include:
Less common HIV symptoms in men in this stage include:
During the acute HIV stage, symptoms most often last one to two weeks.
Upon the aforementioned symptoms disappearing is when the asymptomatic period of HIV begins. During this stage, an individual with HIV does not exhibit any signs or symptoms of infection. HIV may not cause any more symptoms for months or years, but at this point the virus is still replicating and is starting to break down the body’s immune system by attacking important immune cells. The virus is still active during this stage and can still be transmitted to others, which is why it is important to get tested for HIV even if you do not feel ill.
Without treatment, it may take a matter of months or years for HIV to weaken the immune system beyond repair. This progression of HIV is referred to as AIDS, or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. This last stage of 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. It is not uncommon for individuals with AIDS to frequently get colds, flus or fungal infections.
Symptoms men with AIDS may experience include:
Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know for sure whether or not you have contracted HIV. The CDC recommends getting tested at least annually, but it is important to get tested anytime you suspect you could have contracted HIV or have been involved in high-risk sexual activity or drug use. Learn your status today; get tested.