Course of infection

The development of HIV into AIDS

HIV infections develop very differently from person to person. The earlier the infection is recognized, the better medicine can be used to stop the course of the disease. Therefore, HIV need not necessarily develop into AIDS nowadays.

Infection with HIV – the acute phase
There are no symptoms directly after HIV infection. Unspecific discomfort begins two to four weeks after infection, which usually resemble almost every other kind of viral infection (fever, night sweat, diarrohea, exhaustion, swelling of the lymph nodes, joint and muscle pain, headaches, sometimes rashes etc.). That, which is often mistakenly thought to be flu or an intestinal infection disappears after a week or two of its own accord.

Unnoticed multiplication of HIV in the body – the symptomless phase
At first, most patients no longer show any symptoms. The further development of the HIV infection in the body remains unnoticed, yet continues very aggressively. Every day billions of new viruses are created, which the immune system fights and destroys. The virus can be kept in check, but not defeated. This period is different for each individual and can last from several months to many years.

Progression of the disease – the symptomatic phase
According to experience, without therapy an average of ten years pass until the symptomless phase gives way to AIDS. During this time, permanent damage to the immune system and several internal organs is caused due to the chronic infection in the body. Once the body's own defences have finally been significantly weakened, the general susceptibility to infectious diseases increases and the initial discomfort increasingly occurs again.

At some point, the weakened immune system is hardly even able to protect the body against pathogens any more. Serious illnesses, which are of no danger to people with a healthy immune system, keep spreading ever further out due to the low immunity. These so-called 'AIDS defining illnesses', such as lung infections, mycosis and various forms of cancer, are life-threatening to the patient and, when added together, deadly. This end-stage of the HIV infection is referred to as AIDS.


An HIV infection remains incurable. However, there are now very good drugs that prevent the multiplication of the viruses in the body and therefore prevent damage to the body's own defences. Those infected have a good chance of living with HIV for many years and decades and of preventing a severely low immunity. At this point it no longer leads to AIDS.

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