Aids
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Aids
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STAGE 3 : Symptomatic HIV Infection

 

 

Over time the immune system loses the struggle to contain HIV. This is for three main reasons:

The lymph nodes and tissues become damaged or 'burnt out' because of the years of activity;

HIV mutates and becomes more pathogenic, in other words stronger and more varied, leading to more T helper cell destruction;

The body fails to keep up with replacing the T helper cells that are lost.

As the immune system fails, so symptoms develop. Initially many of the symptoms are mild, but as the immune system deteriorates the symptoms worsen.

Where do opportunistic infections and cancers occur?

Symptomatic HIV infection is mainly caused by the emergence of opportunistic infections and cancers that normally the immune system would prevent. These can occur in almost all the body systems, but common examples are featured in the table below.

As the table below indicates, symptomatic HIV infection is often characterised by multi-system disease. Treatment for the specific infection or cancer is often carried out, but the underlying cause is the action of HIV as it erodes the immune system. Unless HIV itself can be slowed down the symptoms of immune suppression will continue to worsen.
 

System

Examples of Infection/Cancer

Respiratory system

Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (PCP)

Tuberculosis (TB)

Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS)

Gastro-intestinal system

Cryptosporidiosis

Candida

 

Cytomegolavirus (CMV)

Isosporiasis

Kaposi's Sarcoma

Central/peripheral Nervous system

HIV

Cytomegolavirus

Toxoplasmosis

Cryptococcosis

Non Hodgkin's lymphoma

Varicella Zoster

Herpes simplex

Skin

Herpes simplex

Kaposi's sarcoma

Varicella Zoster