Problem 7: Symptoms of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Help to answer the question
Symptoms of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection might not appear for 10 years or longer.


It might take 10 years or more for this retrovirus to overcome the ability of the immune system to respond. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) results when the immune system is significantly weakened and opportunistic infections begin.
- fever
- swollen glands
- diarrhea
- spots on the tongue or throat
- mouth sores
- a cough
- weight loss
- blotches on the skin
- persistent vaginal yeast infections
Direct exchange of body fluids is needed for the AIDS virus to be passed on from one person to another. Direct exchange takes place through sexual relations or through the sharing of needles. Blood transfusion or injury may also expose one to the blood of an infected person. Infected mothers may transmit the virus to their unborn child or at birth and through breast feeding. Studies present strong evidence that several STDs facilitate HIV transmission. HIV is not an airborne virus and cannot be transmitted by casual contacts.
Although new medications are promising, not everyone can tolerate the side effects of the drug treatments and no one knows how long the positive effects that have been observed will last. Furthermore, the high cost of the treatment is prohibitive to a large segment of the population, especially for those living in the developing world. Education and safer sex are still the most important factors in controlling the spread of HIV. AIDS is not a curable disease, but we can start thinking of it as a chronic disease instead of considering it a death sentence.

The Biology Project
University of Arizona
Thursday, November 14, 1996
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