Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Early Symptoms of HIV: Is it really helpful?

As a health professional, we tend to face a lot of difficult questions. This is typically not because we do not have answer, but usually because there is no way to make firm statement. Today, we decided to address one of such situations that we face in day to day medical practice. It is about the "Early symptoms of HIV: Is it really helpful in elevating your anxiety?

I don't think that I need to explain the anxiousness and window period frustration demonstrated by patients after unprotected sexual exposure. Just keep in mind that only protected and safe sexual practices are considered safer in terms of STDs transmission risk. Once you are exposed, it is not uncommon to go over online to find out the potential risk of STDs. All STDs are associated to adverse health effects, but HIV carries more importance because of its lethal nature.

When you search "early symptoms of HIV" in Google, it will display more than 174,0000 posts. Now you can imagine the importance of this topic in Google, but is that really helpful to decrease your anxiousness?
I am sure these information will not resolve your anxiety permanently. For a while, you may think that you do not have any early symptoms of HIV, but is that enough to rule out HIV? Certainly not! Lets take another scenario: if you happen to develop early symptoms of HIV does it really conclude that you have HIV? Not really!

Just to summarize the early symptoms of HIV: Although most people do not develop any symptoms, but when they do, they do so within 2-4 weeks after an exposure. The commonly reported early symptoms of HIV are fever, headache, tiredness, lymph node enlargement, rashes etc. If you look closely, these are the same symptoms that you would develop after viral infection or any any other infection. Thus, it is very easy to misinterpret the common cold  viral symptoms with early HIV symptoms. It is also important to note that having early symptoms or not having does not really helps in final diagnosis. After all, the final diagnosis always depends upon the blood or oral mucus tests for HIV antibodies. However, early HIV tests are not accurate and everyone has to follow the recommended HIV testing guidelines for accurate test report.

The main purpose of this article is to aware our readers about the misconception of early HIV symptoms. I know you want to get a definitive answer, but even your physician can not determine HIV status based on these symptoms. So it is time to accept the fact that everyone has to have a HIV testing to make firm conclusions.

You can read our previous post on HIV Testing Timeline: How soon you should get HIV test?