HIV weakens the parts of the body that fight off disease (the immune system). It spreads through body fluids passed during sex, or through infected needles. When HIV begins to cause severe health problems, it's called AIDS. There's no cure for HIV or AIDS. But treatment can help you stay healthier longer.
What to Look For
It may take years for AIDS symptoms to appear. But a few weeks after HIV enters the body, you may have symptoms such as fever, sore throat, headaches, and muscle aches. These symptoms may seem like the flu. So if you're at risk of HIV, get tested. It's the only way to know for sure. HIV testing is available at most health clinics. You can also learn more about testing by calling CDC-INFO at 800-232-4636.
AIDS can't be cured. But medications can help you live a more active life. Some medications help the body resist diseases. Others reduce symptoms. If you have HIV, you must practice safer sex to protect others. This means always using latex condoms during any kind of sex. It also means telling your partner you have HIV before having sex.
If You Don't Get Treated
Over time, AIDS weakens the body. This makes it easier for you to get sick and have:
- Diarrhea and weight loss.
- Swollen glands and thrush (white spots in the mouth).
- Lung infections such as pneumonia or meningitis (brain infection). Some infections can lead to death.
Stop the spread of HIV. ALWAYS use latex condoms. If you are at risk for HIV, get tested. And if you have HIV, tell your partner before sex.