60 Second Factfile: HIV
Flu-like illness in first few weeks, then no symptoms. Progression to AIDS, the final stage of HIV, includes tiredness, weakness, weight loss, blurred vision, shortness of breath, fever and swollen glands.
Living with HIV
While HIV can make a person feel very unwell for a few weeks after contracting the virus, the symptoms usually die down. However, this does not mean that danger has passed; during this "asymptomatic" stage the virus continues spreading throughout the body, attacking the immune system and making the person more susceptible to illness. Contrary to popular belief, most people who contract HIV will not go on to develop AIDS.
By taking medication and avoiding illness, most people can live a relatively normal life, although there are psychological issues caused by the social stigma of HIV which need to be considered. A person with HIV will be monitored throughout their life to ensure the medication is efficiently supporting the immune system.
It's unfortunate, but there is still a social stigma around HIV which can cause people to avoid those with the virus. HIV cannot be transmitted by talking, hugging, any kind of skin contact, or even sharing utensils. HIV is carried in bodily fluids, and does not last very long outside the body at all.