There are a few stages that one may go through before the development of AIDS.
Asymptomatic incubation period
The infected may enter a stage called asymptomatic incubation period in which the virus goes into a period of relative inactivity and causes damage that the infected cannot feel.
The virus can live inside the human body for 10 years or more. The length of the incubation period depends on the health situation, availability of treatment, psychological status and so on of the infected person. There can be no symptoms at all during that period.
AIDS is diagnosed when the infected has a variety of symptoms, infections, and specific test results.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, CD4 cell counts in someone with a healthy immune system range from 500 to 1,800 per cubic millimetre of blood. AIDS is diagnosed when one’s CD4 cell count goes below 200.
Because HIV damages the immune system, the infected may have a higher chance of getting certain diseases, called opportunistic infections. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, opportunistic infections include 26 types of diseases.
Examples of Common Opportunistic Infections:
● Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP);
● Cytomegalovirus (CMV);
● Tuberculosis (TB);
● Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC);
● Cryptococcus Infection (Crypto); and
● Toxoplasmosis (Toxo).
Certain symptoms can occur with opportunistic infections, including:
● Breathing problems;
● Mouth problems, such as thrush (white spots), sores, change in taste, dryness, trouble swallowing, or loose teeth;
● Weight loss;
● Diarrhea; and
● Skin rashes or itching.