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HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, and weakens your ability to fight infections and disease.There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments to enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.

The most common symptoms

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  • Fever, tiredness and a feeling of weakness of the body.
    Fever, tiredness and a feeling of weakness of the body.

    Fever, tiredness and a feeling of weakness of the body.

  • Sore throat.
    Sore throat.

    Sore throat.

  • Headache.
    Headache.

    Headache.

  • Rash usually found in the neck, armpits and groin.
    Rash usually found in the neck, armpits and groin.

    Rash usually found in the neck, armpits and groin.

  • Mouth ulcers.
    Mouth ulcers.

    Mouth ulcers.

  • Diarrhoea.
    Diarrhoea.

    Diarrhoea.

Symptoms

A few weeks after becoming infected, roughly 50% of people will come down with a flu-like illness, which may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Fever, tiredness and a feeling of weakness of the body,
  • Sore throat,
  • Headache,
  • Rash usually found around the groin,
  • Swollen lumps in the neck, armpits and groin,
  • Pains in joints or muscles,
  • Mouth ulcers,
  • Diarrhoea.

After a few weeks of recovering you usually display minimal to no symptoms of HIV for many months to years. During this time the virus is continuously breaking down the body’s natural immune system and after moderate damage has been done, an infected person may start to display symptoms such as:

  • Oral thrush,
  • Diarrhoea,
  • Weight loss,
  • Night sweats,
  • Fever, general tiredness and weakness of the body,
  • Genital or mouth ulcers,
  • Recurrent or persistent warts,
  • Dryness, red, scaly or greasy patches of skin on face or scalp

What does a check-up/test involve?

A blood test or a saliva swab will be taken and will be sent off to a laboratory with results available within five working days. Depending on symptoms, a doctor or nurse may advise a finger-prick test in the clinic, which returns a result within about 20 minutes.

HIV tests may need to be repeated one to three months after potential exposure to HIV infection. 

Treatment

PEPSE (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) is one type of medication that can be used to treat HIV. It can be taken up to 72 hours after exposure to HIV to stop you becoming HIV positive, the early it is taken the better chance of success so if your worried you may have contracted the disease get yourself checked.

If you decide to go with this treatment - The medication needs to be taken for one month after the initial dose to be effective, It can have unpleasant side effects such as;

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin rashes
  • Mood and sleep problems

In the long term, side effects can be more serious, leading to kidney, liver and bone problems

If the medication does not work and HIV is diagnosed, you cannot use PEPSE in future to help treat HIV as you may be resistant, you will be monitored carefully during the month when you take the tablets and then for another three months afterwards. Missing a dose will increase the risk of the treatment not working. 

There is no cure for HIV, but there are treatments to enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life with early diagnosis and effective treatment, most people with HIV will not go on to develop AIDS, AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, when your body can no longer fight life-threatening infections.

If left untreated?

AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, your body and immune system is in a weakened state that it can no longer fight life-threatening infections