The AIDS disease develops in 3 stages: Acute (primary) infection, Latency and AIDS.
During the acute infection - a period of usually 2-4 weeks after exposure - symptoms such as fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (all similar to an influenza infection), rashes, muscle pain, mouth or esophageal sores can occur. Less common are neurological symptoms, vomiting, weight loss, headaches, nausea and thrush. Because of these rather general symptoms, an HIV infection is often not being diagnosed as such, resulting in many patients being misdiagnosed by their doctors. Note that only some, a single or none of above symptoms may be present. The duration of an acute HIV infection is about 4 weeks in most people, but at least 1 week.
In the latency stage there may be only few or none of those symptoms at all. This stage greatly varies in duration depending on the individual, but can last anywhere between just 2 weeks and 20 years, in rare cases even longer. This is the time when most transmissions happen, as the disease itself is not visible to others, most often not even to the infected individual himself/herself.
In it's final stage, the HIV infection has progressed to AIDS, making the person vulnerable to contraction various opportunistic infections and cancers. Opportunistic infections may include respiratory tract infections such as sinusitis, otitis media, pharyngitis or prostatitis, skin rashes, herpes eruptions (shingles), oral ulcers, oral candidiasis (thrush), bronchitis, tuberculosis or pneumonia. An acquired pneumonia (caused by the common fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii) is often fatal. Furthermore various forms of cancers and tumors occur, the most common being skin cancers such as Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS) and lymphomas.
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