What Can be Mistaken for HIV?
In the United States, about 1 million people live with HIV. However, not all of them know they already have the virus. How is this possible? What Can be Mistaken for HIV?
People mistake HIV for several infections or diseases. One particular reason is the signs of the said infection. Although HIV does not develop any symptoms, some of the most common that individuals experience is similar to flu. This also explains why people mistake HIV for flu.
Besides the flu, there are other conditions that look familiar to a normal disease but can actually be the first signs of HIV. Here, you will know different conditions likely associated with the HIV infection.
What are conditions that appear like HIV?
In the early stage of HIV infection, the following symptoms are what infected individuals usually experience:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mild diarrhea
- Sore throat
The signs mentioned above are similar to other usual diseases we experience in our lifetime. Therefore, these early symptoms of HIV are often mistaken for the following conditions:
- The flu
- Common colds
- Strep throat
- Hepatitis infection
- COVID-19 infection
- STIs (sexually transmitted infections)
Skin rashes can also be a result of:
- Allergic reactions (especially food)
- Physical stress
- Rashes from chemicals in soap products
It is also important to note that the lack of essential vitamins and nutrients triggers the mentioned conditions above. Without a proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, any of the conditions that are HIV-like can happen.
Chronic HIV or AIDS
The purpose of antiretroviral drugs is to prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS. Also known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV. When this condition emerges, treating the infection becomes difficult.
During this stage, an individual experiences a lot of unpleasant things. It includes weakening of the immune system and the development of opportunistic infections. Furthermore, the symptoms of AIDS include mild to severe fever, extreme body weakness, swollen lymph nodes, and night sweats. These symptoms can also be mistaken for the following conditions.
Fever – When your body temperature is very high, your immune system is fighting a particular infection. However, other conditions trigger fever. These are as follows:
- Bacterial infection
- Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
Fatigue/Weakness – Energy deficiency is also associated with HIV. However, it can be a result of the following conditions:
- Heart problems
- Medicinal side effect
- Chronic fatigue
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Opportunistic Infections – When AIDS emerges, opportunistic infections colonize the body. These infections include mouth sores, cold sores, skin patches, rashes, and skin lesions. Besides AIDS, these infections are also a result of:
- Herpes simplex virus
- Celiac disease
- Skin injuries
- Allergic reactions
HIV testing plays a vital role in knowing the status of your health. A single vial or small blood sample is already enough to tell if an HIV infection is active within your body. Talk with your healthcare professional today. Ask about the different types of tests and which one is applicable for you.
Knowing your status early will help you in your treatment if you are positive for the infection. If you are negative, you should start taking extra precautionary measures, especially if you are sexually active.