A Brief Look At HIV Symptoms And Rashes

It's not always easy to detect early HIV symptoms, and rashes may or may not be among the symptoms. Perhaps the most common of the early HIV symptoms is a flu-like feeling, which may come and go over time. Whether one experiences other HIV symptoms and rashes in the early stages of the infection can vary significantly from person to person.

HIV And AIDS - The terms HIV and AIDS are often used interchangeably. In actual fact, HIV, an infection caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks, as the name implies, the immune system, setting the stage for AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which can be thought of as a set of diseases which take advantage of the weakened immune system to attack the body. AIDS is the end-stage of an HIV infection, in which the immune system is no longer able to protect the body from even minor infections.

Causes - HIV infections almost always result from an interchange of blood or other bodily fluids between one person and another, one of whom is host to the virus. Unprotected sexual intercourse, the use of needles which have been used by others, and blood transfusions, are the three most common causes of the infection and disease, though the blood used in transfusions is now routinely screened for the presence of the virus.

HIV Rashes - When people experiences HIV symptoms, and rashes are one of them, the rashes usually appear as small dark bumps on the skin. The rashes most commonly occur on the face or upper body, although they can appear anywhere, and are called maculopapular rashes. Rashes generally appear during the earliest stages of the infection, but in some instances make their appearance much later. HIV can often be difficult to diagnose, unless one is actually tested for it, since its symptoms often mimic those of other diseases or disorders. The presence of a rash may be taken as a sign that testing for the infection is in order.

Although HIV symptoms and rashes can come and go, most symptoms gradually increase in severity over time. The rashes on the other hand are more transient in nature, often lasting several weeks and then disappearing, often never to return. It is seldom that these maculopapular rashes appear in the latter stages of HIV/AIDS.

Not All Rashes Are Due To HIV - Because of the weakening of the immune system, an HIV-infected individual can be susceptible to rashes caused by other diseases or disorders apart from the HIV virus. Herpes simplex and herpes zoster infections are rather common, and an HIV infection may bring about allergic reactions to certain drugs and medications, resulting in rashes.

Symptoms (Or The Lack Of Symptoms) Can Be Misleading - As previously mentioned, symptoms of HIV can easily be misinterpreted as symptoms of other disorders. The fact is that early diagnosis is difficult unless testing is done specifically to detect the presence of the virus. Many who have the HIV infection are completely unaware of it, which is the main reason why HIV can spread so quickly, and why as a result, the number of people suffering from AIDS continues to grow at a rapid rate. Another problem medical people encounter is that very early testing for HIV, before the immune system is actively producing antibodies, can produce negative results. An HIV infection may not show up in a normal blood test. A special type of blood test, called a viral load test, will however indicate the presence of the virus, even in the initial stages of infection, and test positive.

There is estimated to be in the order of 40 million people worldwide who are infected with HIV and around 4 million die of aids each year. Most cases are in sub-Sahara Africa, the lowest number are in North America and Europe.