Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks healthy cells that help a body fight off infection—and causes a person to be vulnerable to other illnesses. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—the late stage of HIV when the body is badly damaged.

There are three stages of HIV. In Stage 1, about two-thirds of the people who are infected with HIV will have flu-like symptoms within 2-4 weeks after infection. These symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers

Stage 2 of HIV is known as the latency period where the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. During this period, you may not notice any symptoms, but you can still transmit the virus.

In the final stage, HIV will progress into AIDS. At this time, symptoms include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
  • Extreme and unexplained tiredness
  • Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
  • Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
  • Pneumonia
  • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders

In order to get diagnosed, you should talk to your healthcare provider about being tested for HIV/AIDS. Many doctors, medical clinics, substance abuse programs, and other entities offer tests.

If you test positive for HIV/AIDS, your doctor will come up with a treatment plan for you to adhere to keep you in clinical latency where you are asymptomatic.

While a modified diet isn’t required if you have HIV/AIDS, eating healthier can help manage symptoms and improve medication efficacy.