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Very confused about HIV infection
Jul 7, 2001

Dear Doctor,

I'm very confused about the information i've read on this website. I've always thought that when someone was HIV+, they went for years not having any health problems, then started coming down with OIs, ending up with full blown AIDS. But many of the questions on your site are from people who have only been HIV+ for a couple of years, and they're experiencing sinus problems, skin problems, night sweats, etc. If these problems are recurring in an untested individual, shouldn't it be a warning that you may be HIV+?

Response from Dr. Feinberg

There is clearly a period of variable duration during which HIV-infected people are completely without any symptoms, but people can begin to experience minor health problems that are HIV-associated well before they develop AIDS. "AIDS" means that you have a serious opportunistic infection or malignancy, or that you have fewer than 200 CD4 (T helper lymphocyte) cells. I agree that if someone is experiencing these earlier symptoms suggestive of HIV infection, then it is useful for them to get tested.


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