What is ARS?

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ARS stands for Acute Retroviral Syndrome and it refers to the acute manifestation of people who just got infected with HIV or Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, the precursor to AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome). ARS is the stage wherein the signs of the infection start to become apparent. This stage of HIV infection may last for more than 3 or 4 months depending on the severity of infection and the overall immune status of the involved patient.

The symptoms of ARS or acute retroviral syndrome are similar to the common flu.  Patients often experience high fever and fatigue along with body aches and pains. Some patients who have ARS may also complain of headaches and sore throats. A characteristic rash called “maculopapular” rash may also be noticed for patients who have acute retroviral syndrome. All these symptoms appear several days to a few weeks after HIV infection.  The fever and body pains may also last for several weeks to even months after the initial signs appear. With flu-like symptoms, some patients do not get diagnosed to have ARS or to have been infected with HIV.  Only when the symptoms are felt for several days or weeks will some patients consult with doctors and have blood tests which are essential for proper diagnosis.

After months of experiencing the symptoms related to ARS, people with HIV will then go through the so-called asymptomatic stage.   At this stage in the HIV infection, patients will seem healthy and have no medical complaints. The immune system is still compromised and may be worsening after the ARS stage but symptoms of the infection are typically absent or very minimal at this time. some patients may even continue to live symptom free for as long as 10 years after experiencing the initial symptoms of ARS early on in their HIV infection. Despite the absence of symptoms, patients with HIV typically progress to full-blown AIDS after this stage.

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