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What is the Connection Between Night Sweats and HIV?

Laura M. Sands
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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Night sweats and HIV symptoms tend to occur more frequently in people who have the virus plus a secondary infection, such as tuberculosis or Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP). Other frequently associated symptoms of HIV may also be due to an underlying infection or disease. A person might not experience night sweats or other related symptoms for several years after an initial HIV infection, but most people with the virus do experience them at some point during their infection.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus attacks the immune system, weakening it seriously and placing the infected person at significant risk of developing a secondary opportunistic infection. Such infections may not represent a serious threat to otherwise healthy individuals, but these infections can become life-threatening to an individual with the virus.

Before a person starts developing symptoms of an illness, he may have no idea that he is infected with the virus. This is because HIV can lie dormant in an individual’s body for as many as 10 years following an original infection. Usually, by the time an individual begins experiencing night sweats and other symptoms, another infection has invaded the body.

While all diseases and viral infections are dangerous to a person with HIV, tuberculosis has become one of the most serious. The symptoms of this bacterial infection include fever, cough, fatigue and unintended weight loss. Individuals with a cough caused by this illness often cough up a lot of mucus and, at times, may even produce blood. Night sweats are a classic symptom of this illness, and there is a high rate of tuberculosis infections among individuals with HIV.

Pneumocystis pneumonia is of grave concern to people with HIV infection. This type of pneumonia is actually quite common, but it does not usually cause major complications in healthy individuals. In HIV infected persons, however, PCP is one of the most life-threatening infections they can face. Its symptoms include unintended weight loss, dry cough, breathing difficulties, night sweats, and HIV symptoms such as diarrhea, tongue blemishes, and swollen lymph glands.

Night sweats and HIV symptoms do not necessarily show up during the early phases of the infection. Some patients may live for several years without any signs associated with the virus or with any other secondary infection. For the majority of people recently infected by HIV, however, flu-like symptoms will begin to surface shortly after becoming infected.

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Laura M. Sands
By Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing to her work. With a background in social sciences and extensive online work experience, she crafts compelling copy and content across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a skilled contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On May 12, 2013

Just going to make sure everyone remembers that HIV isn't quite the same thing as AIDS. HIV is the virus, while AIDS is the disease and it's possible to have HIV (to be positive) without having any symptoms.

Most of the symptoms, as it says in the article, stem from other diseases anyway. Basically HIV strips away your immune system so you are more prone to falling ill from other things.

But, with that being said, there has been so much effort put into curing and treating HIV that it's not nearly as much of a problem as it used to be, if, of course, you have access to the drugs.

By Fa5t3r — On May 11, 2013

@MrsPramm - Another thing that I know a lot of doctors recommend is sage tea. It's pretty easy to make and you don't have to buy anything special. Just use the leaves from an ordinary sage, or leaves you would get from a spice rack.

The only thing is, this will work too well to stop someone from having a fever and sweating sometimes. So, you've got to be very careful with it. Make sure it's only night sweats and not a serious fever that indicates that something else needs to change.

Because the sage tea will take away the fever but not the underlying problem. Which is fine if the problem is "just" night sweats, but not if it is, for example, pneumonia that needs treatment.

By MrsPramm — On May 10, 2013

I've never had night sweats myself, but my mother went through it and it was really hard on her. It doesn't seem on the face of it like a terrible symptom compared with some of the other AIDS symptoms, but it makes it so difficult to sleep well and it can be really embarrassing as well.

One thing I would suggest is getting a fitted plastic sheet so that you don't end up ruining your mattress. Make sure you get one that's going to be comfortable and not rustle or feel too stiff.

I find when you are sick it's the little things that really matter and that's one that I would definitely use if I had to, even if it seems like a concession.

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing...
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