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The course of HIV infection

What is happening in your body?

HIV is the human immunodeficiency (compromised) virus that may or may not cause the development of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). Nowadays, you can live normally with HIV, thanks to antiretroviral therapy. She made it possible to treat HIV as a chronic disease . 
To better understand what is happening in your body, see how HIV infection proceeds untreated. Remember, however, that treatment at any stage reduces the risk of developing AIDS. If you start taking your medications early enough, you will never come to the stage of AIDS.

Routes of HIV infection







through the blood

In Poland, it is practically impossible to get infected in health care facilities,   through transfusion of blood or blood products. However, the use of common needles and syringes for various reasons carries a high risk. If you use injection equipment, remember never to share it with others . 

in sexual contacts

  • not all sexual activity is equally risky, if you are passive in contact, the risk of HIV infection increases

  • for heterosexual women, any type of sex is more risky compared to heterosexual men,

  • anal contacts are the most risky sexual contact,

  • condom, PrEP and PEP are agents proven to be effective in radically reducing the risk of HIV infection, as well as treatment in an HIV partner.

from an HIV-infected mother to a child

During pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. Currently, the chances of having a healthy baby born to a woman who knows about her infection,  , are almost 100%.

Course of untreated HIV infection

Primary infection

Symptoms may or may not appear 2-3 weeks after infection, but be aware that:

  • the symptoms are very non-specific, they may resemble the flu or other infectious diseases,

  • at this time in the body of the infected person, there are no anti-HIV antibodies in such quantity that can be detected by tests,

  • symptoms of primary infection, regardless of their number and severity, disappear without treatment,

  • During this period, we observe very high levels of HIV viral load and a decrease in the number of CD4 lymphocytes. This is the time when the risk of infecting another person is high.

All this makes HIV infection extremely difficult to diagnose at this stage.

The asymptomatic stage

During this period, a certain state is created
the balance between HIV and the immune system increases
CD4 lymphocyte count, HIV viral load decreases, but HIV continues to multiply!

  • During this time, no disease symptoms are observed.

  • This stage can last up to 8-10 years, depending on the organism.

  • during this period, you can also pass your infection on,

The symptomatic stage

  • the appearing symptoms are also not very characteristic - symptoms of skin diseases may appear (or intensify), fever (temperature above 38.5oC) may occur, the causes of which cannot be explained for over a month, diarrhea, unplanned weight loss, etc. ,

  • There is a further systematic decrease in CD4 lymphocytes and an increase in HIV viral load.


Recognized  is when an infected person develops one of the AIDS indicator diseases_cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d:

  • these are the so-called opportunistic infections - infectious diseases that use the "opportunity" to attack a person with HIV-weakened immune (immune) system,

  • and also tumors.

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