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how long before HIV becomes AIDS?
Mar 21, 2001

I am wondering how long hiv can be present in the body before it becomes aids. i once heard that it was ten years but wouldnt an hiv infected person show signs of infection well before that. can a person develop full blown aids after a short period of hiv infection. i just want to educate myself and have peace of mind.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

On average, without medication for HIV, it takes about 8-10 years to develop AIDS after being infected with HIV. However, the patterns of how people get sick are quite variable. Having "AIDS" means that you have developed one of the conditions characteristic of advanced HIV disease, but it can also mean simply that you have fewer than 200 CD4 cells according to the case definition used by the U.S. Public Health Service. People can indeed show signs of infection before that and often do. The signs include medical problems such as oral or vaginal thrush, shingles, bacterial pneumonia, and unexplained fever and weight loss. Some people, however, drift below 200 CD4 cells without any associated illnesses. Many people have had found out they are infected with HIV because they get hospitalized with one of the AIDS-defining conditions, such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP).

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