time between exposure and onset of symptoms

Question

Dr. Holodniy: I had downloaded some info from CDC for a class I'm teaching. It led to a question I don't know the answer to and can't seem to locate. It stated that "Because of the long period between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms, cases of AIDS among women in their 20's are thought to primarily affect people who were exposed to the virus as adolescents." So, if someone has not been tested, what is the "long period" timeframe? I will pass your info on to my class. Thank you.

Answer

I take it from your question, you are talking about symptoms of AIDS in HIV infection. During acute infection (acute retroviral syndrome, ARS) symptoms develop in about 2-3 weeks and usually subside after 2-4 weeks after that. Usually people don't have any symptoms for 5-10 years after that. In an untreated person, the average life expectancy is about 10-12 years. Obviously effective therapy can extend the life expectancy by many years. MH