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What Does HIV Do To The Body

What does HIV do to the body

What does HIV do to the body?

One of the widely known sexually transmitted infections is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It is an infection that attacks and damages the immune system, paving the way for different symptoms and other severe conditions. While it has become widespread, not everyone knows how it can potentially impact their health. What does HIV do to the body? How does HIV affect the body?

When HIV enters the body, it immediately attacks the CD4 cells (T cells). These cells are what make people healthy, so when HIV attacks them, they become compromised in keeping the body protected from foreign infections.

The first stage of HIV is an acute infection. This phase occurs when a person comes into contact with HIV. Its symptoms take place weeks after exposure to the virus. This is also the time when the virus multiplies rapidly throughout the body. The symptoms are as follows:


  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Skin rash
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes


The second phase of the infection is called the chronic HIV stage. During this time, the infected person may or may not show symptoms of HIV. Without proper treatment, viral growth can become uncontrollable. Additionally, the immune system can become severely damaged. This opens to the most advanced stage of HIV, which is AIDS.

Also known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), AIDS increases an infected person’s risk for other infections. This causes complications involving different body systems, such as the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, integumentary, and central nervous systems. How does HIV affect these important body systems?


Respiratory system

One of the significant complications of HIV is pneumonia. This is the leading cause of death for people with HIV or AIDS. Since HIV weakens the immune system, the respiratory system develops flu and the common cold. This condition leads to pneumonia.


Cardiovascular system

When it comes to the cardiovascular system, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is one of the significant effects of untreated HIV. It is a type of high blood pressure that leads to complications like heart failure. A heart attack may also be associated with HIV, but cases are lower than PAH.


Digestive system

HIV makes people susceptible to different infections, and our digestive health is not an exemption. People with HIV are sometimes diagnosed with conditions related to their digestive tract. It decreases appetite, which makes it difficult to eat proper food. This leads to weight loss, which is a great indicator of untreated HIV.


Integumentary system

One of the symptoms of HIV is skin rashes. This condition is related to the integumentary system, which comprises the skin, glands, and hair. HIV makes us vulnerable to skin conditions, such as eczema, scabies, skin cancer, and seborrheic dermatitis.


Central nervous system

Untreated HIV can cause nerve damage. One of the significant neurological complications of this infection is associated with dementia. It is a condition that affects the brain’s cognitive function. Some other neurological complications of the disease include anxiety, depression, and memory impairment.



Without proper treatment, the complications mentioned above can happen rapidly. However, controlling your condition is possible if you take immediate action by consuming daily antiretroviral drugs. Talk to your healthcare professional today, and ask what other things you can do to prevent the said complications from affecting your body.

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