Common HIV Symptoms in Men
HIV symptoms in men and in women are virtually the same, barring some notable distinctions. To better understand these symptoms, you first need to understand the virus. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. When untreated, it severely compromises your immune system and can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Unfortunately, though it can be effectively controlled with treatment, there is still no cure for HIV.
Stages of HIV Symptoms
There are considered to be three “stages” for the development of HIV symptoms in men and women. Below is a general guideline, but it should be noted that for many people with HIV, symptoms may not show for years. Unless you get tested, there is truly no way to know for sure whether or not you have it. Sadly, this is not an “out of sight, out of mind” situation. Even if there are no symptoms, the virus is still building in your body and damaging your health.
The “Acute” stage may or may not occur in everyone who has HIV. If it does, symptoms will usually show several weeks after initial contact with the infection. These symptoms will mirror those of the flu or a common cold. This may include body rashes, fever, sore throat, headaches or fatigue. In addition, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint aches, nausea and night sweats may be experienced at this stage.
The “Asymptomatic” period follows the acute stage. At this point, any symptoms previously experienced will typically go away. As the name suggests, HIV symptoms in men or in women will not appear during this stage. This period of time can last for ten years or more. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the virus itself is gone. In fact, during this stage, the virus is actually quietly replicating itself and weakening your immune system further.
This last stage of HIV is the most “Advanced” stage. At this point, your immune system will be very weak, which will prevent you from easily being able to fight off everyday infections like the common cold or the flu. These illnesses can instead become life threatening. Someone with HIV may also notice that common illnesses occur more often and are more severe due to the body’s inability to protect against them.
During this stage, someone with HIV might experience the following AIDS symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, fever, chills and lesions. Some more severe symptoms can include rapid weight loss, swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, groin or neck, memory loss, confusion, or neurological disorders.
HIV Symptoms in Men
HIV symptoms in men that do not affect women are few, but they should be noted. Human immunodeficiency virus can lead to a lack of sex hormone production, so low testosterone may be observed or noted. This may include erectile dysfunction. In addition, some men may experience an ulcer on their penis.
Contrarily, to learn about how HIV specifically affects women, click here.
HIV Does Not Discriminate
For men who have sex with men, the statistics can be especially sobering, as this is a group of people that is most affected by this virus. One in six members of this demographic will be diagnosed with HIV. However, the stigma that HIV is a “gay” disease is old and tired. This infection does not discriminate. Everyone is at risk, regardless of age, race or sexual orientation. So please, don’t think you’re immune. Letting your guard down only puts you at more risk. The CDC recommends that all sexually active adults between the ages of 18 and 65 should be routinely screened for HIV. Be smart about your health and take the potential risks like HIV seriously.
Medical Advancements and HIV Prevention
Luckily, medical advancements have come a long way. HIV is no longer the death sentence it was once thought to be. In fact, there are several known ways to help prevent the transmission of HIV.
Medications like PReP make it much more possible for people with HIV to be in a relationship without affecting their partner. Often, partners of people who are HIV positive take this once-a-day pill as a way of avoiding contraction of the infection. This daily regimen can reduce the risk of an infection by up to 92%.
Using a latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex is another way to protect yourself. That said, condoms do not always protect against STDs and HIV.
Taking control of your health by using these preventative measures can reduce your risk of contracting HIV. However, routine testing is critical for all of us. Since you may not experience any detectable symptoms even if you are positive, you’ll never know your status for sure unless you are tested regularly, and after every new sexual encounter. This is the only way to truly know your status.