What Are Hiv And Aids
The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that affects the immune system. It gradually destroys cells called CD4 cells, which usually help the body stay healthy by fighting off disease.
If HIV is not treated, most people will develop severe immune deficiency within 10 years. At this point, the body is no longer able to fight infection and stop cancer from developing. This late stage of HIV infection is called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome .
How Is Hiv Transmitted
Anyone, at any age, can get HIV. People usually acquire HIV from unprotected sex with someone living with HIV, through contact with HIV-infected blood, or by sharing needles with a person living with HIV. You may be at risk if:
- You had sex without a latex or polyurethane condom. The virus passes from the person living with HIV to his or her partner via blood, semen, or vaginal fluid. During sex, HIV can get into your body through body fluids and any opening, such as a tear or cut in the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or rarely the mouth. Latex condoms can help prevent HIV transmission between sexual partners.
- You or your sexual partners have shared needles with a person living with HIV. People who inject illegal drugs are not the only people who might share needles. For example, people with diabetes who inject insulin or draw blood to test glucose levels could also share needles. Talk to your partner about their drug and sexual history, and always use a new, sterile needle for injections.
- You had a blood transfusion or operation in a developing country at any time.
- You had a blood transfusion in the United States between 1978 and 1985.
- You were diagnosed with or treated for hepatitis or tuberculosis at any time.
Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, about two-thirds of people will have a flu-like illness. This is the bodys natural response to HIV infection.
Flu-like symptoms can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. But some people do not have any symptoms at all during this early stage of HIV.
Dont assume you have HIV just because you have any of these symptomsthey can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. But if you think you may have been exposed to HIV, get an HIV test.
Heres what to do:
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What Are The 3 Stages Of Hiv When Does Hiv Infection Transition To Aids
There are 3 stages of HIV infection:
- Stage 1: Flu-like symptoms after initial HIV infection
- Stage 2: Clinically latency may last for 10 or more years in some individuals
- Stage 3: After HIV reactivation and/or HIVs progressive attack on the immune system, the damaged immune system has a reduced or an inability to protect the individual from serious infections and other illnesses. This stage is termed AIDS. In this stage, lab testing reveals high viral loads and CD4 counts < 200 cells/mm3.
Im Worried About Getting Hiv
Youve probably heard a lot about how the virus is transmitted. However, there are only a few ways you can get HIV.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about how HIV is passed on, which can get in the way of the facts and confuse people.
Instead of worrying about HIV, learn how its transmitted and what you can do to protect yourself.
The HIV infection has three stages:
- acute HIV infection
- clinical latency
- stage 3 HIV
Acute HIV infection is often described as having the worst flu ever. This stage presents with typical flu-like symptoms.
In clinical latency, the virus is living in a person and causes few or no symptoms.
In stage 3 HIV, the bodys immune system is badly damaged and vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
Anyone whos newly diagnosed should focus on finding and taking medications that work best for them. The most commonly prescribed medicines fall into these four categories:
- reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- integrase inhibitors
Combination therapy, with multiple drug types, is commonly used.
Although each type of drug fights HIV in a slightly different way, they work either to stop the virus from infecting cells or to stop it from making copies of itself.
With the proper medication and management, its possible that HIV may never progress to a later stage.
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Aids Is The Final Stage
Controlling HIV with medications is crucial to both maintaining quality of life and helping prevent progression of the disease. Stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS, develops when HIV has significantly weakened the immune system.
According to the CDC National Prevention Information Network, CD4 levels give one indication that HIV has progressed to its final stage. CD4 levels decreasing below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood is considered a sign of AIDS. A normal range is considered 500 to 1,600 cells/mm3.
AIDS can be diagnosed with a blood test to measure CD4. Sometimes its also determined simply by a persons overall health. In particular, an infection thats rare in people who dont have HIV may indicate AIDS. Symptoms of AIDS include:
- persistent high fevers of over 100°F
AIDS is the final stage of HIV. According to AIDSinfo, it takes at least 10 years without treatment for most people with HIV to develop AIDS.
At that point, the body is susceptible to a wide range of infections and cant effectively fight them off. Medical intervention is necessary to treat AIDS-related illnesses or complications that can otherwise be fatal. Without treatments, the CDC estimates the average survival rate to be three years once AIDS is diagnosed. Depending on the severity of their condition, a persons outlook may be significantly shorter.
What is HIV?
What Is The Treatment For Hiv
Individuals who are HIV positive will likely need to see a specialist. As with many other conditions, early detection offers more options for treatment. Today, there are medical treatments that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. However, there are other treatments that can prevent or cure the conditions associated with HIV. Anti-retroviral drug therapy may be given to a pregnant woman, which has proven to greatly reduce the chance of an infant developing HIV. A cesarean section may be recommended to reduce infant transmission from the birth canal. In the U.S., where other feeding options are available, an infected mother should be discouraged from breastfeeding her infant. Consult your childs doctor for more information regarding various drug therapies.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex. An undetectable viral load is a level of HIV in the blood so low that it cant be detected in a standard lab test.
- If you test negative, you have more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before, like pre-exposure prophylaxis , medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use, and post-exposure prophylaxis , HIV medicine taken within 72 hours after a possible exposure to prevent the virus from taking hold.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If you have HIV and take HIV medicine as prescribed throughout your pregnancy and childbirth and give HIV medicine to your baby for 4 to 6 weeks after giving birth, your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby can be less than 1%. HIV medicine will protect your own health as well.
When Should I Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you could have HIV or are at risk of HIV, talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about having a test. Some people at high risk need to be tested regularly.
You should get tested for HIV if:
- you have had unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status is unknown or who has HIV but does not have a measurable amount of virus in their blood
- you have had unprotected sex with a person from a country that has high rates of HIV infection
- your sexual partner has recently travelled to a country that has high rates of HIV infection and may have had unprotected sex there
- you have had unprotected sex with a sex worker in Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia or Papua New Guinea
- you have ever shared injecting equipment
Early diagnosis is important and can improve the long-term course of the illness.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about other STIs at the same time.
Your information will be kept confidential unless there are major concerns for your safety or the safety of others. HIV is a notifiable disease, which means laboratory staff need to inform the government about new cases, but this information is also confidential.
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Needle And Syringe Programs
Needle and syringe programs provide clean needles or syringes to people who inject drugs, reducing the risk of the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C. This is sometimes referred to as needle exchange.
The types of NSP outlet vary, from participating pharmacies to vending machines. Find an NSP in your state or territory:
You can also find a local needle and syringe program using the healthdirect Service Finder. Select By name and type needle into the search bar.
How Is Hiv Treated
HIV is treated with a combination of medicines taken by mouth every day. This combination of pills is called antiretroviral therapy .
Taking a combination of types of pills, rather than just one, is the most effective way to keep HIV from multiplying and destroying your cells. There are also combination pills that have several medications in a single pill. Your healthcare provider will carefully select a combination specifically for you.
The goal of ART is to reduce HIV in the blood to an amount thats not detectable by an HIV test and to slow HIVs weakening of your immune system.
Medications used to treat HIV
Each type of pill used in ART has a different way of keeping HIV from making more copies of itself or from infecting your cells. There can be many different brand names of the same type of ART drug.
Types of ART medications include:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors .
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A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Katie Salerno/Flickr Creative Commons
If you have a sexually transmitted infection , there is a chance you may have HIV as well. The odds may be greater than you think.
Some STIs like syphilis and herpes cause open sores that make it easier for HIV to enter the body. Others like gonorrhea and chlamydia cause inflammation in the genitals that attracts the very immune cells that HIV likes to target and infect.
Having syphilis can increase your risk of HIV by as much as 500%. Other STIs can do the same. Because of this, you should be tested for HIV if you test positive for any STI.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
- Am I at high risk for HIV?
- What can I do to reduce my risk of HIV?
- How can I make sure I take my medications correctly?
- What can I do to protect myself from other illnesses?
- How can prevent the spread of HIV?
- What do my test results mean?
- What do my blood counts mean?
- What vaccinations should I get?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Treatments have come a long way since the height of the AIDS epidemic. You have the best chance of living a long life if youre diagnosed early and are able to get on and stick with ART medications. People living with HIV today are able to work, have active social lives and families, and pursue fulfilling relationships. In fact, this can have a positive impact on your well-being.
While weve come a long way with treatments, unfortunately, social stigmas around HIV still persist. In addition to the feelings of fear and uncertainty a new diagnosis can bring, you may wonder how those around you will respond. If youre hesitant to get tested or get treatment, or if you just arent sure what your next steps are, you can reach out to a community organization that specializes in HIV. Remember that you are deserving of support, compassion and high-quality healthcare.
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How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.
Health care providers prescribe a combination of different medicines for people with HIV and AIDS. They must be taken exactly as prescribed or they wont work. These medicines:
- help keep the number of CD4 cells high
- reduce the viral load of HIV
Regular blood tests will check the number of CD4 cells in the body and the viral load.
If an HIV-positive persons CD4 count gets low, doctors prescribe daily antibiotics. This prevents pneumocystis pneumonia, which happens in people with weakened immune systems.
I Want To Know If The Symptoms I Am Having Mean That I Have Hiv
If you have not had sex without condoms or other barriers and you have not shared equipment to inject drugs or other substances, HIV cannot have entered your body. Whatever symptoms you have therefore cannot have been caused by HIV.
If you have had sex or shared injection equipment, you cannot figure out from an Internet search whether you are living with HIV. Any symptoms you have could have a variety of causes, only one of which is HIV. For example, a sore throat could be caused by the streptococcus bacterium , the SARS-CoV-2 virus , the common cold, influenza , an allergic reaction, smoking, or something else. The only way to know whether you have acquired HIV is to get tested for HIV.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Later Hiv
As HIV weakens someones immune system, they may experience signs of other illnesses:
- weight loss
- an increase in herpes or cold sore outbreaks
- swollen glands in the groin, neck or armpit
- long-lasting diarrhoea
But remember: people who dont have HIV can also get any of these they can be the signs of other illnesses.
A weakened immune system may leave someone more open to serious infections such as:
Rash Related To Medication
While rash can be caused by HIV co-infections, it can also be caused by medication. Some drugs used to treat HIV or other conditions can cause a rash.
This type of rash usually appears within a week or 2 weeks of starting a new medication. Sometimes the rash will clear up on its own. If it doesnt, a change in medications may be needed.
Rash due to an allergic reaction to medication can be serious.
Other symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- trouble breathing or swallowing
Stevens-Johnson syndrome is a rare allergic reaction to HIV medication. Symptoms include fever and swelling of the face and tongue. A blistering rash, which can involve the skin and mucous membranes, appears and spreads quickly.
When 30 percent of the skin is affected, its called toxic epidermal necrolysis, which is a life threatening condition. If this develops, emergency medical care is needed.
While rash can be linked with HIV or HIV medications, its important to keep in mind that rashes are common and can have many other causes.
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Does Treatment Stop Hiv Symptoms
Treatment will allow your immune system to recover and stop the symptoms. The earlier you are diagnosed with HIV and start treatment, the better your health will be over time.
joint aches and pains
These symptoms happen because your body is reacting to the HIV virus. Cells that are infected with HIV are circulating throughout your blood system. In response, your immune system tries to attack the virus by producing HIV antibodies. This process is called seroconversion. It can take up to a few months to go through the seroconversion process.
Because of this, HIV will not always show up in a test at this early stage, so your healthcare worker will talk to you about when you should test for HIV. This may be up to three months after you were exposed to HIV. You will need to test up to two more times to confirm your result.
In this early stage of infection, the amount of HIV in your blood is high. Youre more likely to pass the virus onto others if you have unprotected sex or share needles to inject drugs.
What Are The Stages Of Hiv Infection
There are three stages of HIV infection if it is not treated.
Stage 1: This happens after you are infected with HIV and can feel like flu. But not everyone will experience this.
Stage 2: This is when many people start to feel better. This stage may last for 10 years or more. During this time, you may have no symptoms.
Stage 3: This is when your immune system is very badly damaged and can no longer fight off serious infections and illnesses. You will feel very unwell.
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