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Weight loss and Night Sweats
Nov 13, 1998

Could you please tell me how early in the course of infection weight loss is generally seen?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

Weight loss associated with HIV/AIDS does not usually occur until literally years after infection. When weight loss is associated with HIV/AIDS, we are not talking about just a few pounds. We are talking about a significant amount of weight loss in a very short amount of time that is unexplained by other causes. For example, if a person loses 10-20 pounds (approximately 4.5 to 9 kilograms) in a month, and there is nothing to explain this weight loss, this could be related to HIV/AIDS. But, this could also be due to things totally unrelated to HIV/AIDS (for example, a significant change in diet or physical activity, other illnesses, etc.). If you are experiencing a significant amount of weight loss in a very short period of time that is unexplained, then you should talk to your doctor to determine the cause. But remember, you CANNOT assume the cause is HIV/AIDS until you see your doctor and have lab tests done.

On a related matter, many people are fearful that they have HIV, because they are sweating at night (night sweats). When sweating is associated with HIV/AIDS, we are not talking about just feeling damp or mild sweating. We are generally talking about a drenching sweat, often severe enough that you would have to change your clothes (or bed sheets). However, drenching sweats can also be due to causes other than HIV/AIDS. If you are experiencing drenching sweats (especially if they are recurrent), then you should talk to your doctor to determine the cause. Remember, you CANNOT assume the cause is HIV/AIDS until you see your doctor and have lab tests done.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).



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