If you experience or have experienced any of the common illnesses that are listed below, and especially when they are prolonged, it is important that you get tested for HIV. To help you better understand medical terms when you test positive for HIV, we have provided explanations used by physicans, followed by symptoms (how you feel or might notice physical changes) you may experience.
- Infectious (EBV) Mononucleosis
- An acute infectious disease associated with Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms may include: fever, swelling of lymph nodes, and a decrease in the cells that fight infection. Also called glandular fever, kissing disease, mono.
- Severe Exudative Pharyngitis (streptococcal or gonococcal)
- Severe inflammation of the pharynx (throat). Symptoms may include: enlarged or sore areas in your throat that might be uncomfortable when swallowing food or water.
- Any human respiratory (lung) infection of undetermined cause. Symptoms may include: sudden onset, fever, feeling physically or mentally tired, severe aches and pains, and shortness of breath.
- A disease of the brain and spinal column that may be either a mild illness caused by a virus or a more severe, usually life-threatening, illness caused by a bacteria. Symptoms may include: fever, headache, vomiting, malaise (yucky or blah feeling), and stiff neck.
- Viral Hepatitis
- Inflammation of the liver, caused by a virus. There are often no symptoms with new hepatitis. If someone does feel sick, they can have muscle aches, feel tired, be nauseated, vomit, things may taste funny and sometimes right upper belly pain can occur.
- Primary Herpes Simplex (HSV) Infection
- Either of two diseases caused by two human herpesviruses. HSV-1 symptoms may include, groups of watery blisters on the skin or mucous membranes (as of the mouth and lips) above the waist and in HSV-2 blisters on the genitals.
- Systemic Drug Allergy
- A reaction to a medicine that can cause sneezing, trouble breathing, rashes or itching.
- Primary Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection
- A herpesvirus that acts as an opportunistic infectious agent in immunosuppressed conditions (as AIDS). It commonly affects the eyes but in people with AIDS, it can also cause problems in the brain, lung, liver or gut.
- Primary Syphilis
- Symptoms occure in 10-90 days after exposure and involves a small painless ulcer or ulcers. The ulcers are very contagious.
- Secondary Syphilis
- The second stage of syphilis appears from two to six months after primary infection. Symptoms may include a rash that can affect the palms and soles of the feet, enlarged lymph nodes or hair loss. Symptoms can last four weeks.
- Acute Toxoplasmosis
- An infection with or disease caused by a sporozoan of the genus Toxoplasma (T. gondii) found in dirt. In people with AIDS, can cause diseases in the eyes, lungs and brain.
- An acute contagious disease that is milder than typical measles but is damaging to a baby when occurring early in pregnancy. Can cause a flu-like disease with joint pain in adults.
- A yeast infection of the mouth. Thrush is commonly seen in children but generally only in immunosuppressed adults. Causes a white layer that scrapes off on the tongue and mouth.
- Pneumocystis Jerovoci Penumonia (PCP)
- It is found everywhere in the soil, but only causes disease in immunosuppressed people (like HIV and AIDS). Causes fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath that gets worse over days to weeks. Can be fatal if not treated.
Other Terms used with HIV and AIDS
- CD4 Cell
- A cell in the body that helps fight infection. HIV uses the CD4 cell as a place to manufacture itself. One CD4 cell can make about 4,000 copies of HIV.
- CD4 Count
- A way to measure how severe an HIV infection is. The HIV virus infects the CD4 cell and eventually kills it. Since CD4 cells help fight infection in the body, the lower the count (and more severe the HIV), the more likely one will get sick with other diseases.
- Viral Load
- A count of the amount of HIV virus in the blood. It is measured in copies per milliliter and gives an idea of how active the virus is.
- A word used for people who have a decreased ability to fight infection. People with HIV or AIDS are immunosuppressed because their CD4 cells are decreased by the virus. People being treated for cancers may be immunosuppressed because of drugs they are given to fight the cancer.
- Cells that the body makes to fight an infection. In a disease like chickenpox, the body makes antibodies so that if a person is exposed again, the antibodies fight the chickenpox and you don´t get sick again. The body makes antibodies to HIV but they are not powerful enough to get rid of the virus.
- HIV Screen
- Looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood or mouth flud. (Antibodies do not cause diseases. You cannot get HIV from spit that doesn't have blood in it.) It can take up to six months for HIV antibodies to form after someone has been exposed to HIV. If there is worry that someone has been newly infected, a viral load may be drawn.
Sources: New York/New Jersey AIDS Education and Training Center and Medline Plus Online Dictionary.