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23 Feb 2012
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Image source: Mikael Häggström; Symptoms of AIDS


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a late stage of HIV, an immune system disease that leaves sufferers with a weakened immune system and susceptibility to infections and viruses. AIDS occurs when the immune system has ceased to function and the individual develops a life-threatening condition.

  • Coming into contact with HIV infected blood or semen
  • Having unprotected sex with an HIV infected individual
  • Blood transfusions that contain blood infected with HIV
  • HIV positive mother passing infection on to child during pregnancy or through breastfeeding



People with HIV will often develop a flu-like illness within 2 months of contracting the virus. Symptoms can include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Ulcers on the mouth or genitals
  • Diarrhoea


By the time AIDS develops, the immune system will be severely compromised – this could take 10 years or more. Symptoms can include:

  • Soaking night sweats
  • Fever and chills
  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Headaches
  • Blurry  or distorted vision
  • Weight loss



Currently there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but a number of drugs have been developed to control the virus. Treatments may include:

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRSTIs)
  • Protease inhibitors (PIs)
  • Entry or fusion inhibitors
  • Integrase inhibitors


  • Use protection (condoms) during sexual intercourse and oral sex
  • Use clean needles when using injections – do not share
  • Tell your sexual partners that you have HIV so that they can be tested
  • If you are pregnant, seek medical care immediately. Medical intervention can cut a baby's risk by two-thirds


If you have any of the above symptoms consult your general practitioner.




Video: When HIV Becomes AIDS



Video: Healthline – Learn About HIV and AIDS



Video: NHS – AIDS and HIV




New Zealand Aids Foundation
Ministry of Health – AIDS



National Aids Trust (UK)
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations
Best Health Journal



The Journal of the American Medical Association
The Lancet
British Medical Journal



eHealth Forum – AIDS
HealingWell – AIDS Forum



The information above is of a general nature and is designed to provide you with an overview of the topic, with links to local and international resources that may be of interest.  We do our best to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date.

You should always, however, seek specific professional medical advice, treatment and care appropriate to you, and as such we strongly recommend you consult with your general practitioner first.



Updated April 2012 
Image source: Wikipedia – Symptoms of AIDS