HIV infection has 3 phases: acute seroconversion, asymptomatic infection, and AIDS. In the acute seroconversion phase, viremia is high and the CD4+ helper T lymphocyte cell count falls rapidly. Symptoms, including fever, rash, lymphadenopathy, and malaise, typically occur within 2 to 4 weeks after infection. The second phase of infection can be asymptomatic or present with persistent generalized lymphadenopathy. Viral replication occurs and the CD4+ lymphocyte count steadily declines. This chronic or latent phase can last more than a decade. The final stage, AIDS, is defined by a CD4+ lymphocyte count below 200 cells/microliter of blood or by development of opportunistic infections or malignancy.
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 1 - Update on General Medicine. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.