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What are the symptoms and signs of AIDS?

Learn about the early signs and symptoms of AIDS.

Prolonged fever is among several early symptoms and signs of AIDS. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Prolonged fever is among several early symptoms and signs of AIDS.

The early symptoms of AIDS-related complex, or ARC, include night sweats, prolonged fevers, severe weight loss, persistent diarrhea, skin rash, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

The diagnosis changes to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) when the immune system is affected and the patient becomes susceptible to opportunistic infections and unusual cancers, such as

  • Herpes viruses (herpes simplex, herpes zoster, cytomegalovirus infection)
  • Candida albicans (fungus) infection
  • Cryptosporidium enterocolitis (protozoan intestinal infection)
  • Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP, a common AIDS lung infection)
  • Toxoplasmosis (protozoan brain infection)
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML, a central nervous system disease causing gradual brain degeneration)
  • Mycobacterium avium intracellulare infection (MAI, a common generalized bacterial infection)
  • Kaposi's sarcoma (a malignant skin cancer characterized by blue-red nodules on limbs and body, and internally in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, where the tumors cause severe internal bleeding)

More than 75 percent of AIDS victims, if untreated, will die within two years of diagnosis.

The signs of AIDS are generalized swollen glands, emaciation, blue or purple-brown spots on the body, especially on the legs and arms, prolonged pneumonia and oral thrush.

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