By stage three the HIV virus has advanced to full blown AIDS, and not much can be done. Once AIDS symptoms settle in, it is usually fatal within 2-3 years. Advanced AIDS is most often identified by extreme and rapid weight loss. AIDS sufferers may also have prolonged diarrhea (lasting more than a couple weeks), pneumonia, extreme fatigue, herpes (mouth and genital sores), a persistent dry cough, severe night sweats, dementia and red, brown, pink or purple blotches on the skin. Not all AIDS patients have every one of these symptoms, but many will.
If detected early on, HIV does not have to progress quickly to AIDS. Those with HIV who are treated early with antiretrovirals can live almost as long as someone without AIDS. They must diligently take a daily treatment for the rest of their lives, but they can still live a full life. The important thing to remember everyday, but especially on World AIDS Day is the AIDS pandemic has not gone away. Make sure you protect yourself from it.