Hiv Doesnt Always Produce Symptoms
HIV usually causes flu-like symptoms about two to four weeks after transmission. This short period of time is called acute infection. The immune system brings the infection under control, leading to a period of latency.
The immune system cant completely eliminate HIV, but it can control it for a long time. During this latency period, which can last for years, a person with HIV may experience no symptoms at all. Without antiretroviral therapy, however, that person may develop AIDS and as a result will experience many symptoms associated with the condition.
What Research Is Being Done
Within the Federal government, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , a component of the National Institutes of Health , supports research on the neurological consequences of HIV and AIDS. NINDS works closely with its sister agencies, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Mental Health , to fund research related to HIV and AIDS. The Office of AIDS Research coordinates AIDS research across NIH.
NINDS conducts research into how the weakened immune systems of individuals with AIDS lead to neurological illnesses. NINDS investigators are studying the JC virus, which can reproduce in the brains of people with impaired immune systems and cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy . In one small NINDS study, the anti-cancer drug pembrolizumab showed promise in slowing or stopping the progression of PML. Additional research is needed to confirm results, which could lead to new investigations that help revolutionize treatment for similar chronic infections in immune compromised individuals.
Many individuals whose infection is successfully suppressed with cART experience a reactivation of the virus upon stopping treatment. Researchers are studying how a reservoir of inactive HIV is maintained in the brain. This research is a first step toward developing a means to render the virus permanently dormant or even to rid the brain of all traces of the virus.
What Does Undetectable Mean
Current treatment can reduce levels of the HIV virus to the extent that levels of virus in the blood are too low to be significant. These levels are undetectable.
While the virus is undetectable, it does not affect the persons daily life, and it will not necessarily shorten their lifespan. At this point, the virus is also untransmittable. It cannot be passed on to another person.
If a person seeks treatment in the early stages and follows it throughout their life, they can usually expect to live as long as a person without HIV.
AIDS was first recognized as a distinct condition in 1981.
Health workers started noticing that an unusual number of opportunistic infections and cancers appeared to be affecting particular groups of people.
Once people had the virus, their immunity to certain diseases would decrease over time, and the syndrome, AIDS, would develop.
The cause of the problem was traced back to a retrovirus, the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1.
HIV-1 is transmitted between humans through the exchange of bodily fluids.
This can happen through:
Those who need to take special precautions include:
- anyone who deals with needles or injects medication or other drugs
- health workers who deal with sharps
- those who give and receive tattoos and piercings
It is essential to follow specific guidelines when using and disposing of needles and other sharp objects that may pierce the skin.
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A Timeline Of Hiv Symptoms
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that compromises the immune system. Theres currently no cure for it, but there are treatments available to reduce its effects on peoples lives.
In the majority of cases, once HIV infection takes hold, the virus stays in the body for life. However, unlike what may occur with infections by other types of viruses, HIV symptoms dont suddenly appear and peak overnight.
If left untreated, the disease progresses over time through three stages, each with its own set of possible symptoms and complications some severe.
Regular antiretroviral treatment can reduce HIV to undetectable levels in the blood. At undetectable levels, the virus wont progress to the later stages of HIV infection. In addition, the virus cant be transmitted to a partner during sex.
Hiv And Getting Pregnant
If you are HIV-positive and become pregnant, or would like to have a baby, it is strongly recommended that you talk to specialists.
If you live in Victoria, The Victorian HIV Service at the Alfred Hospital and the Chronic Viral Illness Clinic at the Royal Womens Hospital can provide you with more information.
At the Chronic Viral Illness Clinic at the Royal Womens Hospital you can discuss your options with doctors who specialise in HIV and reproductive health.
This clinic specialises in helping serodiscordant couples to conceive safely.
Timing of sex to coincide with ovulation can be discussed with a healthcare provider to increase your chances of getting pregnant while reducing the risk of passing on the virus.
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Reducing Hiv Transmission Risk During Pregnancy
For HIV-positive women, ways to reduce the risk of transmission include:
- Taking antiretroviral medications before conception to reduce your viral load . The lower the viral load, the lower the risk of transmission to your unborn baby.
- Start antiretroviral HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV .
Being on treatment and having a low, or undetectable, viral load improves your immune system and health throughout pregnancy.
HIV-positive pregnancy today, with specialised care, is the same as HIV-negative pregnancy. Pregnancy does not make HIV progress any faster.
Managing Illness As A Parent
Although medical advances now allow people with HIV to live full, healthy lives, you may have times where you or your partner is unwell or needs medical care.
As with any longer-term illness, this can impact on your ability to earn an income, manage a household or raise children.
Living with chronic illness can be a challenge and sometimes families need extra support. Trying to sort things out on your own can make life seem overwhelming. Dont be afraid to ask for help from expert organisations that support people with HIV.
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Understanding A Negative Result
What does a negative test result mean?
A negative result doesnt necessarily mean that you dont have HIV. This is due to the window period.
If you test again after the window period, have no possible HIV exposure during the window period, and the result comes back negative, you do not have HIV.
If you have certain risk factors, you should continue getting tested at least once a year. Learn more about who is at risk for HIV and why they should be tested more often.
If I have a negative result, does that mean my partner is HIV-negative also?
No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status.
HIV is not necessarily transmitted every time you have sex or share needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment. And the risk of getting HIV varies depending on the type of exposure or behavior. It is important to remember that taking an HIV test is not a way to find out if your partner has HIV.
Its important to be open with your partners and ask them to tell you their HIV status. But keep in mind that your partners may not know or may be wrong about their status, and some may not tell you if they have HIV even if they are aware of their status. Consider getting tested together so you can both know your HIV status and take steps to keep yourselves healthy.
How Hiv Is Transmitted
HIV is not passed on easily from one person to another. The virus does not spread through the air like cold and flu viruses.
HIV lives in the blood and in some body fluids. To get HIV, 1 of these fluids from someone with HIV has to get into your blood.
The body fluids that contain enough HIV to infect someone are:
- vaginal fluids, including menstrual blood
- breast milk
- contact with animals or insects like mosquitoes
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How Do You Get Hiv From Sex
HIV is transmitted through semen , vaginal fluid, blood, and anal mucus. During sex without a condom the bodily fluids from one person can pass into the body of their sexual partner. This can happen through the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina and rectum, or sores in the mouth and throat.
You can only get HIV from someone who is living with HIV and has a detectable viral load.
Whats The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. And people with HIV do not always have AIDS.
HIV is the virus thats passed from person to person. Over time, HIV destroys an important kind of the cell in your immune system that helps protect you from infections. When you dont have enough of these CD4 cells, your body cant fight off infections the way it normally can.
AIDS is the disease caused by the damage that HIV does to your immune system. You have AIDS when you get dangerous infections or have a super low number of CD4 cells. AIDS is the most serious stage of HIV, and it leads to death over time.
Without treatment, it usually takes about 10 years for someone with HIV to develop AIDS. Treatment slows down the damage the virus causes and can help people stay healthy for several decades.
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What Is The Leading Cause Of Hiv Transmission
HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. You can get HIV from contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Most people get the virus by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV. Another common way of getting it is by sharing drug needles with someone who is infected with HIV.
Hiv Vs Aids: Whats The Difference
It can be easy to confuse HIV and AIDS. They are different diagnoses, but they do go hand-in-hand: HIV is a virus that can lead to a condition called AIDS, also known as stage 3 HIV.
At one time, a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was considered a death sentence. Thanks to research and the development of new treatments, people with HIV at any stage today are living long, productive lives. An HIV-positive person who adheres to regular antiretroviral treatment can expect to live a near-normal life span.
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How Long Can Hiv Survive Outside The Body
Once outside the body, HIV usually cant survive for very long. Coming into contact with blood or semen that has been outside the body doesnt generally pose a risk for HIV transmission.
Similarly, the risk of passing on HIV to someone else if you have a detectable viral load and cut yourself is also very low. Wash away any blood with soap and hot water and cover the wound with a sticking plaster or dressing.
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. By taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed, you can make the amount of HIV in your blood very lowso low that a test cant detect it . Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online, or your health care provider may be able to order one for you. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
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How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv
You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:
- Semen and pre-seminal fluid
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
Types Of Condomless Sex And Risk Of Hiv
During condomless sex, HIV in the bodily fluids of one person may be transmitted to the body of another person through the mucous membranes of the penis, vagina, and anus. In very rare cases, HIV could potentially be transmitted through a cut or sore in the mouth during oral sex.
Out of any type of condomless sex, HIV can most easily be transmitted during anal sex. This is because the lining of the anus is delicate and prone to damage, which may provide entry points for HIV. Receptive anal sex, often called bottoming, poses more risk for contracting HIV than insertive anal sex, or topping.
HIV can also be transmitted during vaginal sex without a condom, although the vaginal lining is not as susceptible to rips and tears as the anus.
The risk of getting HIV from oral sex without using a condom or dental dam is very low. It would be possible for HIV to be transmitted if the person giving oral sex has mouth sores or bleeding gums, or if the person receiving oral sex has recently contracted HIV.
In addition to HIV, anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom or dental dam can also lead to transmission of other STIs.
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How Is Hiv Diagnosed
An HIV antibody test, either from a blood sample or an oral sample , can tell whether you have been infected. A negative test result means no HIV antibodies were found. This usually means you are not infected. However, if you engaged in behavior that could spread the virus within three months of having the test, antibodies may not be detectable and you should be re-tested. A positive test result means antibodies to HIV were found. This means you are infected with the virus and can pass HIV to others even if you have no symptoms. You are infected for life. Even if you think you have a low risk for HIV infection, consider getting tested whenever you have a regular medical check-up.
Hiv And Planning A Family
, but for a woman who is HIV-positive, or who has a male partner with HIV, planning a family requires extra consideration.
If you are in this situation, seek professional advice and find out as much as you can before you become pregnant. It may help to talk the issues through with:
- The doctor who is treating you.
- Your HIV specialist, obstetrician or family planning specialist.
- The Chronic Viral Illness Clinic at Melbournes Royal Womens Hospital . CVI clinic staff are experienced and knowledgeable about HIV in pregnancy and can provide expert advice and assisted reproductive technology options for serodiscordant couples .
- A counsellor who specialises in this area.
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Hiv And Stds Are Spread In The Same Ways
You can get HIV or an STD by having sex without a condom with a person who is already infected. HIV and some STDs can be passed from a mother to her baby while she is pregnant, during birth or through breast feeding. HIV and some STDs can also be spread by sharing drug “works” with someone who has HIV or an STD.
Hiv Can Be Transmitted From Person To Person
Because HIV is a virus, it can be transmitted between people just like many other viruses. AIDS, on the other hand, is a condition a person acquires only after theyve contracted HIV.
The virus is transmitted from one person to another through the exchange of bodily fluids. Most commonly, HIV is transmitted through sex without condoms or shared needles. Less so, a mother can transmit the virus to their child during pregnancy.
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How To Be Safe When Coming Into Contact With Infected Blood
A condom will act as a barrier against any contact with blood during sex.
As well as sex, sharing equipment for injecting drugs is a way blood can get into someones body. This can be avoided by using fresh needles and not sharing needles, syringes and other equipment.
If a woman has HIV, her menstrual blood also carries a risk of transmission if she has a detectable viral load.
If youre HIV negative and taking pre-exposure prophylaxis youll be protected against getting HIV if you come into contact with infectious blood.