Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), is a virus that attacks the immune system of the body, destroying cells that helps the body fight off infections and diseases. HIV has no cure. However, the virus can be controlled with antiretroviral medication, making people with HIV to live healthy lives without the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
READ ALSO: How to Identify Penis Rash Caused by HIV
Early Symptoms of HIV in Men
The initial HIV symptoms in men are mostly undefined. This is because early symptoms are usually mistaken for flu or a mild condition. After getting exposed to the virus, men can experience flu-like symptoms for some days to weeks which may include:
- sore throat
- skin rash
Some men may also experience more severe symptoms at the early stage of the infection. Symptoms may include:
- weight loss
Less common early HIV symptoms include:
- ulcers in the mouth and on genitals
- joint pains
- sore muscles
- night sweating
- swollen lymph nodes
- nausea or vomiting
Stages of HIV
HIV progresses through three stages. Each stage has certain characteristics and symptoms.
Stage 1: Acute phase
This stage usually occurs 2-4 weeks after transmission, and it mostly goes unnoticed. Typical symptoms may include flu, fever, sickness, and chills. Some people do not realize that they have the virus because their symptoms are mild.
At this stage, it is very easy for the virus to be passed on by the infected person, especially through unprotected sex because they have substantial amount of virus in their bloodstream.
Stage 2: Clinical latency
This stage is usually with no symptoms and is referred to as the asymptomatic phase. If left untreated, this stage can last for 10 years or more. A medication called antiretroviral therapy (ART) can control the virus at this stage, meaning that HIV does not progress and people are less likely to transmit the virus.
At this phase, HIV is still multiplying inside the body but at lower levels than in the acute phase. If someone has untraceable levels of the virus for at least 6 months, it means they cannot pass the virus to others through unprotected sex.
Stage 3: AIDS
At this deadly stage, the amount of virus in the body has overwhelmed the body’s population of immune cells. The immune system is weakened at this stage, and allows opportunistic infections to attack the body.
Typical symptoms of this stage include:
- weight loss
- swollen lymph nodes
READ ALSO: Symptoms of Oral STDS
HIV Diagnosis in Men and Women
HIV is diagnosed in both men and women by testing a blood or saliva sample. A sample of urine could also be tested. This test checks for antibodies produced by the person to fight the virus. The test typically takes around 3 to 12 weeks to detect antibodies.
Another test is test to check for HIV antigens (substances that the virus produces immediately after transmission). These antigens cause the immune system to activate. HIV produces the p24 antigen in the body even before antibodies develop.
Usually, both the antibody and the antigen tests are done in labs, but there are also home tests that people can take.
Home tests may require a small sample of blood or saliva, and their results are quickly available. If the test is positive, it is essential to confirm the results with a doctor. A person should repeat the test after a few months to confirm the results if the test is negative.
HIV Testing for Men
Men who are sexually active should get tested for HIV at least once in a year as part of their routine health care. According to the CDC, everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should take an HIV test. People with specific risk factors should take a test at least once a year.
Image source: legit.ng, mylabbox.com
Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.