Stages of Disease: How does HIV turn into AIDS?

Stage 1 Primary infection (window period)

Stage one is where your blood is full of HIV and your body is just beginning the immune response. During stage one, window period, a normal antibody HIV test will result in a false negative while you will still be highly infectious. This stage lasts for several months.

Stage 2 asymptomatic

Stage two is characterized as not having or showing symptoms of HIV. So you or your partner could look and feel healthy but can still pass the disease onto others. Depending on how you maintain your health, you can live without symptoms for more than ten years. If you ignore the HIV, your immune system can be destroyed by HIV without your knowledge. The sooner you find out your status the more time you have to live.

Stage 3 symptomatic

During stage 3, the first signs of HIV appear due to a weakened immune system. Your body falls under attack of normally preventable illnesses and diseases. ARV treatment usually begins now and works to strengthen immune system and prevent progression of HIV.

Stage 4 HIV-AIDS

This stage is characterized as having a CD4 count of less than 200 cells/mm3 of blood (normal is 1000 cells/mm3). At this point of the infection you are considered to have AIDS. This is the terminal stage of HIV and consists of multiple infections and diseases.

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