What Are the Stages of HIV Infection?

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At Health Services of North Texas, we offer comprehensive care to patients with HIV or AIDS. Whether infectious disease management services or virus testing, our HIV care is always confidential and private. We are here for Denton and Collin County patients who may have been exposed to HIV, who live with HIV, or who have AIDS. Our compassionate staff is ready to help you start your medical treatments as soon as possible. For low-income patients, we offer Ryan White services for patients in Denton, Collin, Hunt, Dallas, and Kaufman counties. There are many individuals living with HIV who don’t know it. Getting an HIV test is important to stop the progression of the virus into AIDS. We have six offices where we can provide STD/STI testing.

Our services include:

  • HIV/AIDS testing

  • Pre-exposure prophylaxis

  • HIV/AIDS education

  • Counseling or behavioral health services

  • Management of HIV medications

  • Medical visits

  • Case Management

  • Prescription Assistance Program

  • Transportation services for medical visits, and housing, and insurance assistance (to Ryan White patients)

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system. It destroys T-helper cells, a white blood cell found in the immune system, and then makes copies of itself. As more cells are destroyed, and more copies are made, the patient’s immune system is continuously weakened. This means that someone who has HIV and isn’t being treated will have a hard time fighting off disease or illness on their own. With proper treatment from antiretrovirals from Health Services of North Texas, patients can live a long and healthy life. This treatment reduces the level of HIV in the body to such a low level that it is undetectable on a blood test and means you cannot pass it on to a sexual partner. HIV can be transmitted through semen, blood, vaginal or anal fluid, and breast milk.

What is AIDS?

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is an advanced HIV infection, known as late-stage HIV. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is so compromised that they can’t fight off infection. When left untreated, it can lead to death. With proper HIV treatment in Denton and Plano many people do not develop AIDS as they manage their HIV symptoms effectively.

What are the stages and symptoms of HIV?

There are four stages of HIV, including:

  1. Acute primary infection: This includes flu-like symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, rash, headache, upset stomach, joint aches, and muscle pain. These symptoms can occur one to four weeks after being infected. They usually only last a week or two. These symptoms occur because the body is trying to fight the HIV virus. However, your cells are being infected. HIV doesn’t always show up on a test at this early stage, so we recommend you get tested again to confirm a positive or negative result. At this stage, you are very likely to pass on the virus to others.

  2. Asymptomatic HIV infection: The second stage is when you start to feel better after the initial symptoms. While you’re not feeling symptoms, the virus is still infecting your cells and making copies of itself to damage your immune system.

  3. Symptomatic HIV infection: The third stage of HIV is when your immune system becomes severely damaged. Persistent cough, weight loss, night sweats, chronic diarrhea, regular infections, and serious illnesses are all common signs of this stage of HIV.

  4. AIDS (Progression of HIV to AIDS): There is no test for AIDS. Our doctors at Health Services of North Texas will look at viral load numbers, CD4 counts, and the presence of infections to make an AIDS diagnosis.

How to treat HIV

It’s important to know that with proper medication management, not all patients with HIV will progress to Stage 4 AIDS. The sooner that HIV treatment begins, the more likely you are to maintain your stage and not progress to severe damage. For patients who may be at risk for contracting HIV, please ask your provider about PrEP, a once daily pill. This daily pill decreases your chance of contracting HIV, but only if you take it regularly. At Health Services of North Texas, located in Denton and Collin Counties, we treat HIV with antiviral medications.

Learn about compassionate HIV care in Texas

When you’re living with HIV, you will want to receive care from the compassionate medical team at Health Services of North Texas. At all of our locations across North Texas, we offer HIV treatment, testing, case management, and other helpful services for those needing our medical expertise. To learn more about HIV care, call one of our locations to schedule an appointment today for testing or HIV treatment.