Early symptomatic HIV infection

Alternative Names

AIDS-related complex – ARC; Chronic symptomatic HIV infection

Definition of Early symptomatic HIV infection

Early symptomatic HIV infection is a stage of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus when symptoms are present but has not yet developed.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Early symptomatic HIV infection has signs and symptoms typical of but not full-blown AIDS. The onset of symptoms signals the transition from asymptomatic HIV infection to HIV disease.

Signs and tests

The patient may have signs of a bleeding disorder in which there aren’t enough platelets in the blood (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura).


Medications can successfully treat many of the symptoms of early symptomatic HIV infection.

Expectations (prognosis)

There is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS. However, antiretroviral therapy and HAART can dramatically improve the length and quality of life for people infected with HIV, and can delay the onset of AIDS. The treatments for conditions that occur with early symptomatic HIV disease vary in effectiveness. Some infections and disease processes are easier than others to treat with medications.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/1/2009

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ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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