The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system, weakening it and making it extremely difficult for the human body to protect itself from other infections. HIV specifically attacks CD4+ white blood cells. CD4+ cells act as the “air traffic controllers” for the immune system. When too many of these cells are destroyed, the body is no longer able to defend itself against infection and later results in the development of AIDS. It can take several years before HIV weakens your immune system to where AIDS develops.


HIV can be contracted through sexual contact, contact with infected blood (sharing needles or blood transfusion), childbirth or breast feeding, or by being passed from mother to child during pregnancy. You cannot become infected with HIV by shaking hands, dancing, hugging or kissing someone with HIV/AIDS. It also cannot be transmitted through the air, water or insect bites.

There are three phases of HIV, in which symptoms vary greatly.

  • The Primary Infection is the initial phase and usually causes flu-like symptoms within a couple of months after contracting the infection. Because these symptoms of fever, muscle soreness, headache, sore throat, diarrhea and mouth or genital ulcers tend to be mild enough to go unnoticed, often times the HIV infection spreads and develops into the next phase of the infection.
  • The next phase is the Clinical Latent Infection, which may involve swollen lymph nodes, but again because this symptom is sometimes associated with other illnesses, often times, it goes undetected. This phase of infection usually lasts eight to 10 years as the HIV infects the white blood cells and develops into the third phase.
  • The third phase of the infection is called, Early Symptomatic HIV Infection. Symptoms during this stage may include: fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, diarrhea, coughing and shortness of breath.


AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a chronic and potentially life threatening condition that is a result of HIV. HIV damages your immune system in such a way that it makes it impossible for your body to fight off organisms that causes AIDS.

Within approximately 10 years, AIDS will develop if the HIV infection was left undiagnosed and untreated. By this point, the immune system has suffered severe damage leaving you susceptible to numerous possible infections and diseases that wouldn’t normally affect people with a healthy immune system.

Common symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Shaking chills
  • Fever higher than 100 degrees F that lasts several weeks
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained fatigue that is persistent
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent white spots/lesions on tongue and/or mouth
  • Skin rashes
  • Blurred vision

At any point that you think you may have been infected with HIV or at risk for contracting the virus, please contact your physician as soon as possible.

Services at IDS

We are committed to providing you with the most advanced and comprehensive treatment for all stages of HIV/AIDS. Our team of professionals strives to provide you with the compassionate, confidential and high standard of care you expect and deserve. In addition to HIV testing, we offer prevention counseling and state-of-the-art medical care for all stages of HIV/AIDS.

While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, there are multiple medication therapies available today that can stop the progression of HIV disease tremendously. HIV treatment may involve a single or several pills to be taken throughout the day for the rest of your life. Side effects are typically uncommon, but may include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, skin rashes, shortness of breath, weakened bones and abnormal heartbeats.

We will walk with you every step of the way throughout your treatment, keep you informed of your progress and answer any questions you may have.

The goal of HIV therapy is to make the levels of virus in our patients’ blood undetectable. Undetectable means there is no HIV virus in the blood. When patients achieve undetectable status, they are considered the healthiest of HIV patients. Nationwide only 25% of all HIV patients achieve undetectable status. At IDS, in 2017 88.3% of our patients are undetectable.


You can help protect yourself and others from the HIV/AIDS infection by educating yourself about the virus and refraining from conduct that allows infected fluids into your body. These fluids can include semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk and blood. Practice safe sex if you are unaware of the HIV status of your partner; be honest with your sexual partner if you have HIV; and seek medical care immediately if you have HIV and are pregnant. If you have a drug problem and inject the drugs into your system, avoid sharing needles. We also strongly advise that you consider seeking help to overcome your drug addiction.