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The Symptoms

Early symptoms associated with HIV infection can be very similar to those of colds and flu.  These include fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, low fever, swollen glands and diarrhea.  Left untreated, viral replication progresses.  Increasingly, the immune system becomes unable to fight off bacteria, other viruses, and fungi that cause disease.  People with progressing HIV are vulnerable to a variety of disease causing germs or microorganisms which cause Opportunistic Infections.

Many germs and bacteria are encountered daily in our environment. People with normal immune systems, can successfully fight these germs, and rarely become ill. However, people with immune systems weakened by HIV, may develop serious infections whenever exposed.  Prevention and early medical treatment become an important line of defense to the infections associated with HIV.

The diagnosis of AIDS is made when immunodeficiency syndrome has developed. This is an advanced stage of HIV infection, when the immune system is severely depressed and unable to mount defense. Here, the risk of cancers, pneumonia or other life-threatening illnesses becomes a significant concern. Additionally, the severe stress associated with HIV, increases the metabolism and alters the body's ability to use nutrients normally. As a result, weight loss, muscle wasting and malnutrition become problems which further compromise the body's ability to fight opportunistic infections.

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