Does "Asymptomatic" Mean Without Symptoms for Those Living with HIV Infection?

Throughout the history of the HIV epidemic, HIV-positive patients with relatively high CD4 counts and no clinical features of opportunistic infections have been classified as "asymptomatic" by definition and treatment guidelines. This classification, however, does not take into consideration the array of symptoms that an HIV-positive person can experience long before progressing to AIDS. This short report describes two international multi-site studies conducted in 2003-2005 and 2005-2007. The results from the studies show that HIV-positive people may experience symptoms throughout the trajectory of their disease, regardless of CD4 count or classification. Providers should discuss symptoms and symptom management with their clients at all stages of the disease.