Taking Antiretroviral Treatment To Protect Your Baby
Taking treatment properly can reduce the risk of your baby being born with HIV to less than 1%.
If you knew that you were HIV-positive before you got pregnant, you may be taking treatment already. If you are not, talk to a healthcare professional about starting treatment as soon as possible.
If you found out that you living with HIV during your pregnancy, it is recommended that you start treatment as soon as possible and continue taking it every day for life.
Your baby will also be given treatment for four to six weeks after they are born to help prevent an HIV infection developing.
We Cant Go Back To The Deadly Hiv Stigma Of The 1980s
As medical advances help thousands of people, it would be disastrous to revert to bigoted attitudes in public and the media
The 1980s are back: not in the form of male pop stars wearing eyeliner, but headlines dripping with stigma. Hollywood HIV panic, booms the Sun newspaper. A-list actors virus diagnosis rocks showbiz and Womanising star has string of ex-lovers, it adds. Seeing the combination of HIV and panic in print is not something my generation is accustomed to three decades ago, it was a tragic norm. For those who have spent much of their lives campaigning to overcome the stigma of this treatable illness, it is a bleak day. Even with the advances made in HIV testing and treatment, this shows that unfounded prejudices still remain, says the Terrence Higgins Trust. It is attitudes like these that perpetuate HIV stigma.
If a celebrity or anybody else has HIV, it really is none of our business. And portraying them as a walking biological weapon carriers of a pestilence that makes them a threat to others has terrible consequences. On the one hand such tabloid witch-hunting helps to make people living with HIV feel isolated, increasing depression and anxiety. But it also means fewer people choose to be tested.
The HIV epidemic became a means of reinforcing existing prejudices and discrimination towards gay men
A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Katie Salerno/Flickr Creative Commons
Contracting other sexually transmitted diseases can significantly increase the risk of getting HIV. For instance, some STDs like syphilis and herpes cause skin lesions that make it easier for HIV to enter the body.
STDs may also cause inflammation, which is something that is triggered by the body’s immune system. HIV preferentially infects defensive white blood cells, so when there are more of them around, it’s easier to contract HIV.
Having an STD like gonorrhea or syphilis means that you’ve engaged in unprotected sex, a key risk factor for HIV. So if you have been diagnosed with an STD, talk to your healthcare provider about how you can reduce your HIV risk.
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When Should You Call The Doctor If You Have Hiv Or You Think You Have Been Exposed To Hiv
There is also post-exposure prophylaxis , which is used in emergencies and should be started within 72 hours after the possible exposure. This involves taking antiretroviral therapy after this exposure. ART may be prescribed after sexual assault, or if you think you have been exposed during consensual sex or drug-taking.
If you already know you have HIV, you should follow your healthcare providers instructions on when to call. It is important to treat any type of infection, so call if you have new symptoms or things like a fever, sweating episodes, diarrhea, and so on. Its better to check with your doctor if you have any kind of symptom that worries you.
The main feature of managing AIDS is to continue to take your medicines and to fight back at opportunistic infections at the first sign of them.
What Is Important For This Approach To Work
For HIV treatment to provide protection against HIV transmission, a persons viral load needs to become and remain undetectable after they start treatment.
When a person begins treatment, it usually takes three to six months for their viral load to become undetectable. Most people will eventually have an undetectable viral load if they are using HIV treatment that is effective against their strain of HIV and take it as prescribed by their doctor.
A persons viral load needs to remain undetectable for at least six months before they can use this approach as an effective HIV prevention strategy. They must continue to have high adherence to treatment to maintain an undetectable viral load over time. The only way for them to know if their viral load remains undetectable over the long term is to have regular viral load tests.
However, not everyones viral load becomes and remains undetectable on treatment. The most common reason why a persons viral load remains detectable is low adherence to their medications, but drug resistance can also occur. When treatment fails, a person wont know that their viral load is detectable until they get another viral load test. Depending on the reason the treatment failed, a person may require a change in treatment, or they may benefit from adherence counselling, to bring their viral load back down to undetectable levels. The best options for moving forward should be discussed with a doctor.
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Can My Viral Load Continue To Change
Yes, your viral load can continue to change. This would usually be a result of factors to do with your adherence , or other health issues. Regular viral load monitoring will help you stay on top of these changes, so you can manage your health accordingly.
Your viral load usually drops quickly after first starting treatment, however it may be a while before it reaches a point where its undetectable. Most people who adhere properly to their treatment become undetectable after about six months, but its important that you have a viral load test to confirm this.
While changes to viral load can occur, they should be relatively uncommon for people who adhere properly to their medication and are otherwise in good health. Your viral load monitoring appointments are there to help you to identify and respond to any changes in your viral load.
These appointments also give you time to discuss any difficulties you are having with your medication. Often big life changes, like starting a new relationship or moving to a new place, can make adherence more difficult. Your healthcare worker can help you with any new challenges and work with you to stay healthy and keep your viral load low.
Researching An Hiv Cure: The Main Approaches
Although the stem cell approach has had some success in the past, its very dangerous for the patient. It would only be considered a viable option, if the person needed a stem cell transplant to treat another more deadly condition, such as very advanced leukaemia which, unlike HIV, doesnt have as many other safe and effective treatment options available.
While there is promising research being carried out in these areas, there is no viable cure on the horizon.
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Can Neurological Complcations Develop In Individuals Treated With Antiretroviral Therapy
Even when HIV is well controlled with ART, many infected individuals still develop HIV-associated neurological and cognitive difficulties. This is because many drugs used to combat HIV cannot cross the protective layer called the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, and even those that can may not completely control the virus in the brain. Antiretroviral drugs can also become toxic after long-term use and cause neurological side effects.
Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
After a person comes into contact with HIV, the virus replicates quickly, and the blood contains high levels of the virus. At this time, it can easily transmit to others through blood, semen and preseminal fluids, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid, and breast milk.
Within 24 weeks of exposure to the virus, some people develop a nonspecific syndrome with a fever and other flu-like symptoms. This may last for several days or weeks.
Not everyone experiences these symptoms, however. If a person does not undergo testing, it is possible for HIV to progress without any indication that it is in the body.
The flu-like symptoms of a stage 1 HIV infection may include:
- swollen glands
- nausea or vomiting
These symptoms are collectively known as a seroconversion illness. They represent the bodys natural response to an infection as it attempts to kill off the virus. However, the human body cannot completely remove this virus once it is present.
At this stage, the virus replicates using the bodys CD4 T cells and spreads throughout the body. In doing so, it destroys CD4 T cells.
Eventually, this process stabilizes. The immune system reduces the number of viral particles, and levels of CD4 T cells may rise. However, the number of these cells may not return to its original level.
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Risks And Side Effects
HIV medicines can sometimes cause side effects. Some side effects happen for a short time. Other side effects can cause long term health problems. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects you are having. Do not stop taking your medicine without first talking to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may tell you tips to help you cope with the side effects. Your healthcare provider may also tell you to take different medicines.
- This page does not give the specific side effects and warnings for each HIV medicine.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the medicines you take.
- Check the FDA Web site to find more HIV medicine information.
It is important that you take your HIV medicines just as your healthcare provider tells you. Your medicines may not work if you skip a dose or do not stick to your schedule. Over time, you can get sick if you do not take your medicines as directed. Your HIV may become resistant to your medicines. This means your medicines could stop working and more HIV could build up in your body.
Here are some tips to help you remember when to take your HIV medicines.
- Use a schedule or planner.
- Set the alarm on your watch or phone.
- Use a pillbox to help you organize your pills.
- Ask a friend or family member to help you.
Chart to help you remember when to take your HIV medicine
Do I Still Need To Worry About Other Sexually Transmitted Infections
Neither HIV treatment nor PrEP prevents other sexually transmitted infections, or STIs.
Ways to reduce the risk of STIs include having both partners tested, limiting the number of sexual partners and using condoms. Vaccines are available to prevent some STIs, including hepatitis B and human papillomavirus .
Having A Diagnosis Of Aids
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is the name used to describe a range of illnesses which can develop when someones immune system has been significantly weakened by HIV.
Depending on where you live, the way an AIDS diagnosis is given will vary. In some countries, someone will be given an AIDS diagnosis if they develop an AIDS-related illness. In others you will be given an AIDS diagnosis if your CD4 count is below 200.
Being diagnosed with AIDS does not mean that your health will continue to deteriorate. Many people diagnosed with AIDS have become healthy again, with good treatment and care.
Being Diagnosed With An Opportunistic Infection
You might already feel unwell and many people who receive a late diagnosis are told that they have symptoms of an opportunistic infection.
These are infections which are able to get into your body more easily because your immune system has been weakened. Common opportunistic infections include:
- Kaposis sarcoma
Although opportunistic infections can be serious and impact your quality of life, you can work closely with your doctor to find the best combination of medication for you to help your immune system.
HIV medication is very good and although your immune system will already have been harmed, it’s possible to repair a lot of the damage the virus has done if you take care of your health.
Following your medication instructions is especially important if youre diagnosed late.
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Starting Hiv Treatment After Diagnosis
The sooner you start to take HIV treatment, the sooner you can benefit from it. HIV treatment will strengthen your immune system, reduce the amount of HIV in your body and prevent illnesses from occurring. Effective HIV treatment also helps prevent you from passing HIV on to someone else.
If your CD4 count is below 200 your doctor will recommend starting HIV treatment immediately. With a CD4 count below 200 your body is vulnerable to opportunistic infections. These are infections the immune system can usually prevent on its own but with a low CD4 count the immune system is not able to fight them off. Opportunistic infections can be very serious and cause potentially life-threatening illnesses.
To prevent the development of these infections you may also need to take antibiotics . Once your CD4 count has increased to above 200, the prophylaxis treatment will be stopped. If you are already ill with an infection, you may start treatment for this before you start HIV treatment.
How Do People Get Hiv
You can get HIV when body fluids from an infected person enter your bloodstream. Body fluids are blood, semen, vaginal fluids, fluids from the anus, and breast milk.
The virus can enter the blood through linings in the mouth, anus, or sex organs , or through broken skin. Both men and women can spread HIV.
You can have HIV and feel okay and still give the virus to others. Pregnant women with HIV can also give the virus to their babies.
The most common ways that people get HIV are having sex with an infected person and sharing a needle to take drugs.
You cannot get HIV from:
- Touching or hugging someone who has HIV/AIDS.
- Public bathrooms or swimming pools.
- Sharing cups, utensils, or telephones with someone who has HIV/AIDS.
- Bug bites.
- Donating blood.
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Talk To A Healthcare Provider
If a person has HIV, theyâll probably experience one or more of these skin conditions and rashes.
However, getting diagnosed in the early stages of HIV, starting treatment soon after, and adhering to a treatment regimen will help people avoid the more severe symptoms. Keep in mind that many skin conditions associated with HIV will improve with antiretroviral therapy.
What Conditions Are Considered To Be Opportunistic
Some of the most common of these OIs/cancers among HIV-positive people include:
Cancer: The types of cancers that are you are more likely to get if you have AIDs include lymphoma, Kaposis sarcoma, invasive cervical cancer, anal cancer, liver cancer, and cancers of the mouth, throat and lungs.
Candidiasis : This condition is caused by Candida fungus. It can happen in the skin, nails and mucous membranes throughout the body, such as the mouth or the vagina. The cases can be troublesome, but thrush is especially dangerous when it affects the esophagus or parts of the respiratory system .
Pneumonia: This respiratory condition is most commonly caused by _Pneumocystis jirovecii and the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae._
Salmonella: This infection is spread through contaminated food and water. It causes diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
Toxoplasmosis: This disease is caused by a parasites that live in cats and rodents and other warm-blooded animals. The infection is spread through the feces. Toxoplasmosis can cause severe problems in the lungs, heart, brain and other organs. If you have a cat, wear gloves to change the litter and be thorough in washing your hands.
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What Can You Do To Look After Yourself
The most important thing is to start HIV treatment, and to take it exactly the way you are advised to .
Attend your HIV clinic for regular check-ups. These monitor how your treatment is working, with regular screening for other health problems. Having a good relationship with your healthcare team is important, so that you feel able to be honest about your health, lifestyle, adherence and any other issues, to help you receive the best possible care and support.
“Once your CD4 count improves, with continued treatment and care, your life expectancy is very good.”
Register with a GP for non-HIV-related health problems. GPs can give you an annual flu vaccination , and provide advice on lifestyle factors that help keep you well, including healthy eating, exercise and giving up smoking.
While your CD4 count is low , ensure your drinking water is free from infection and take extra care in preparing and storing food to avoid food poisoning. Be careful to avoid infections if you are handling animals or gardening. Your healthcare team can talk to you about any risks and give you advice.
Natural History Of Sivcpz Infection
Initially, SIVcpz was thought to be harmless for its natural host. This was because none of the few captive apes that were naturally SIVcpz infected suffered from overt immunodeficiency, although in retrospect this conclusion was based on the immunological and virological analyses of only a single naturally infected chimpanzee . In addition, SIV-infected sooty mangabeys and African green monkeys showed no sign of disease despite high viral loads in blood and lymphatic tissues , leading to the belief that all naturally occurring SIV infections are nonpathogenic. However, the sporadic prevalence of SIVcpz, along with its more recent monkey origin, suggested that its natural history might differ from that of other primate lentiviruses. To address this, a prospective study was initiated in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, the only field site where SIVcpz infected chimpanzees are habituated and so can be observed in their natural habitat.
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