Health Issues And Aging With Hiv
People aging with HIV share many of the same health concerns as the general population aged 50 and older: multiple chronic diseases or conditions, the use of multiple medications, changes in physical and cognitive abilities, and increased vulnerability to stressors. In addition, while effective HIV treatment has decreased the likelihood of AIDS-defining illnesses among people aging with HIV, many HIV-associated non-AIDS conditions occur frequently in older persons with HIV, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disease, and cancer. These conditions are likely related to a number of interacting factors, including chronic inflammation caused by HIV. Researchers are working to better understand what causes chronic inflammation, even when people are being treated with ART.
HIV and its treatment can also have effects on the brain. Researchers estimate that between 25 and 50% of people with HIV have HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder , a spectrum of cognitive, motor, and/or mood disorders categorized into three levels: asymptomatic, mild, and HIV-associated dementia. Researchers are studying how HIV and its treatment affect the brain, including the effects on older people living with HIV.
HIV Long-Term Survivors Awareness Day
Sudden Unexplained Weight Loss
National Human Genome Research Institute
Weight loss is common in people living with HIV during the advanced stages of the disease. This is not about the loss of just a few pounds. This is the sudden, unexplained loss of 10% or more, in which both fat mass and lean muscle are lost.
Also known as HIV wasting syndrome, the condition is seen less often today due to the use of antiretroviral drugs that keep the virus suppressed and allow the immune system to rebuild itself. Wasting is mainly seen in people who have not been treated for HIV.
The exact cause of HIV wasting is unknown, but it is thought that the constant inflammation caused by HIV increases the speed at which energy is burnt and reduces testosterone levels needed to build lean muscle.
Other common causes of wasting include malnutrition, chronic diarrhea, tuberculosis, and cancer, all of which require urgent diagnosis and treatment.
Who Are At Risk Of Getting Hiv/aids
- Persons who have sex without a condom.
- Persons with many sex partners
- Persons who have had repeated Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Male and female prostitutes
- Sexually active homosexual and bisexual males
- Persons who have sex with someone who is HIV positive
- Past or present users of needles to inject illicit drugs, e.g. heroine
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Can I Get Hiv From Kissing
You cannot get HIV from kissing an infected person on the cheek. Where saliva is exchanged, it is unlikely that the virus will be transmitted. This is because one would have to swallow one gallon of the saliva from an infected person in order to contract the disease. However, the risk increases if an uninfected person has a sore or cut in the mouth.
Hiv Diagnosis And Window Period
You wonât know if you have HIV right after youâre infected. It takes time for your body to make antibodies and for antigens to show up.
The âwindow periodâ is the time between when you might have been exposed to HIV and a test can tell for sure you have it. This varies from person to person and test to test. Your testing counselor can tell you more about the window period for the test youâre taking. Here are some general guidelines:
An antibody test can detect HIV 23 to 90 days after youâre exposed to the virus. The window for a test that uses blood from a vein is faster than one that uses oral fluid or blood from a finger stick.
An antigen/antibody test done in a lab on blood from a vein can detect HIV infection within 18 to 45 days. It takes longer if the testâs done with blood from a finger stick.
A nucleic acid test usually has the shortest window: 10 to 33 days. This test is not generally used to diagnose HIV infection unless you have symptoms and a history that suggest you were infected only a few days ago.
If you have a negative test and werenât exposed to the virus during the window period for that test, you can be certain you didnât have HIV when you were tested.
The CDC recommends that all adults have an HIV test at least once, even if theyâre not at risk. If your risk is higher for example, you have multiple sex partners or use needles for drugs you should be tested every year.
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Put An End To Your Fears Stop Googling And Go Get Tested
Occasionally, we here at TheBody.com are lucky enough to hear from readers who volunteer to craft their own articles sharing their stories and thoughts. This is one of those articles.
Typing HIV into Google for the first time was a terrifying experience. The Internet can be a scary place especially for a hypochondriac like myself.
The swarm of anxiety comes thanks to the excess of information out there that is mostly misleading, confusing or downright scary. Id read, be consumed with my deepest fears, then quickly delete my history and hope no one was looking over my shoulder.
That was the game for me.
Soon I realized I wasnt alone. Googles top answers often led to high-traffic message boards that are breeding grounds for misinformation. Responses vary from ignorant to downright cruel and no one is an expert.
The Google search would continue: Analyzing symptoms that are similar to the common cold, attempting to determine my risk factors and viewing statistics that are mostly irrelevant to that drowning in fear feeling.
For me, it became a routine. I wanted all the information that I could find to tell me that I didnt have HIV. I learned I wasnt high risk. I am a sexually active heterosexual male with fewer than 10 partners all of whom I knew and/or was in a relationship with.
My leg was still shaking he left the room to get the results. He returned moments later.
Negative. I did not have HIV.
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What Will Happen At The Emergency Department
You will be asked to give informed consent in order for your blood to be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C. Your treatment will be determined based on the type of exposure to blood or body fluids and your test results. The health care provider may also try to determine whether the persons blood or body fluid with which you had contact may be infectious for HIV, hepatitis B and C.
In case of possible exposure to HIV, the health care provider may start you on a course of antiviral medications without waiting for test results. These medications should be started as soon as possible, and are most effective if started within 2 hours of exposure. You will be referred to your own health care provider if you need to continue taking these medications for 1 full month.
To help protect you from hepatitis B disease, you may be given a hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis B immune globulin. Hepatitis B immune globulin contains antibodies that provide immediate but short-term protection against hepatitis B virus. The hepatitis B vaccine provides long lasting protection by helping your body make its own antibodies against the virus.
There is no vaccine to prevent infection with hepatitis C. Blood tests will show if you were exposed to hepatitis C or have acquired the virus.
If you have a serious cut or wound you may need to get the tetanus vaccine depending upon the type of wound and your immunization history.
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How Long Do Side Effects Last
People have different experiences with side effects. For some it is mild and does not last for more than a few days while others may experience side effects for a few weeks. In general side effects from taking ARVs should not last more than 2-3 weeks. Talk to your doctor or Adherence Counsellor about managing side effects.
How Is An Hiv Infection Treated
HIV cannot be cured. The main goal of treatment is to improve your health. The second goal is to slow the progression from HIV to AIDS. Your healthcare provider will decide your treatment based on your CD4 cell and viral load counts. Tell him or her if you ever had an allergic reaction to or other problem with any medicine. You may need any of the following:
- Antiretroviral medicines slow the progression of HIV. They are given in different combinations called highly active antiretroviral therapy . Your healthcare provider will decide what kind of HAART you need. You may need to make HAART changes if you have severe side effects or develop resistance to a medicine.
- Antimicrobial medicines kill or prevent bacterial, viral, or fungal infections.
- Preventative medicines may be given to protect you from opportunistic infections. These are illnesses that develop because your immune system cannot fight the bacteria or viruses that cause them. Examples include toxoplasmosis, Pneumocystis pneumonia , and tuberculosis.
- Vaccines may help prevent the flu, pneumonia, hepatitis, and other infections.
- Night sweats
- Genital, anal, or mouth ulcers
This range of symptoms, typically referred to as acute retroviral syndrome , generally begin within five days of exposure and usually last for around 14 days .
If you have had a recent exposureâsuch as unprotected sex with a partner of unknown statusâthese early signs and symptoms strongly suggest the need for immediate HIV testing.
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Is There Any Treatment Of A Cure For Hiv/aids
Currently, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. People living with HIV will need lifelong treatment. The best treatments right now are combinations of prescription drugs. These medications include antiviral treatment, protease inhibitors and other drugs that help people who are living with HIV stay healthy. People living with HIV also can stay healthy by doing things like eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep.
Whats Next If The Test Is Positive
If a person gets a positive result, a qualified lab should retest the sample to make sure it was not inaccurate or have another sample tested. A positive result on a follow-up test means that a person has HIV.
Its recommended that people who test positive for HIV see a healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
A medical professional can get a person with HIV started on antiretroviral therapy right away. This is a medication that helps stop HIV from replicating and can help prevent transmission of HIV to other people.
Its important to use condoms, dental dams, or other barrier methods with any and all sexual partners and refrain from sharing needles while waiting for test results or until the virus becomes undetectable in the blood.
Seeing a therapist or joining a support group, whether in person or online, can help cope with the emotions and health issues that come with an HIV diagnosis. Dealing with HIV can be stressful and difficult to discuss with even the closest friends and family.
Speaking privately with a therapist or being part of a community made up of others with the same medical condition can help a person understand how to lead a healthy, active life after diagnosis.
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You Can Test Yourself For Hiv In The Privacy Of Your Own Home
Several at-home HIV tests have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and can be bought online or at a drugstore. Many of these tests ask consumers to prick their finger with a needle, place a few drops of blood on a blotter pad, and then mail the sample to a lab. Of course, you can also see your doctor for a conventional blood test or visit almost any public health center for a blood or saliva test . These centers also offer confidential on-site counseling. The CDC notes that if you get a positive result from any at-home test, youll have to get other testing to confirm the results.
Being Young And Hiv Positive
As you get older, youll probably want to manage your own health and treatment but just because youre becoming an adult doesnt mean youre meant to know it all.
Remember, its your choice as to when, where and how you tell people about your HIV status.
You might benefit from joining a support group for young people living with HIV to share your feelings and experiences.
Living with HIV shouldnt stop you from having fulfilling relationships and a healthy sex life when youre ready.
Your teenage years are a time of great change your body develops during puberty, and its often very emotional. It can be an intense and exciting time, but it can also feel difficult to cope with everything.
You may be finishing school and taking exams, and youre probably thinking about your future. This is also a time when many people have their first relationships.
Whatever challenges you face its important to remember you are not alone. Lots of other people have been, and still are in, similar situations. Many people find it helpful to speak to a counsellor or join a support group.
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Is There A Cure For Hiv
There is no cure for HIV. But if you acquire the virus, there are drugs that help suppress the level of HIV in the body and prevent its spread to other people. Doctors use a combination of drugs called HAART to treat HIV/AIDS. Although it is not a cure, HAART has greatly reduced the number of deaths from HIV-related complications in the United States. HIV has become like a chronic disease, and people living with HIV receiving successful treatment can live a long and healthy life.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hiv
No two people with HIV will have the same symptoms, and some may not have any at all. But the infection can cause some common changes over time.
In the first few weeks: These first, flu-like symptoms happen because your body is reacting to HIV. Your immune system is trying to fight it off. The symptoms at this stage can include:
- Aches and pains in muscles and joints
Keep in mind that even if you have these symptoms, that doesnât automatically mean you are HIV-positive. Many different illnesses can cause these problems. Talk to a doctor or an HIV testing facility if you think you might be infected.
At this early stage of HIV infection, itâs important to know that you may not get accurate results from an HIV test. It can take 3-12 weeks for enough signs of the virus to show up on routine tests for the infection, which measure antibodies against HIV. A new kind of screening, called a nucleic acid test, can detect the virus itself during this early stage, but itâs expensive and not usually used for routine HIV testing.
Let the testing site or your doctor know if you think you might be recently infected. Also, be sure to use a condom every time you have sex, and take other steps to prevent spreading the virus.
After years with untreated HIV, youâre likely to get infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that your body is no longer strong enough to fight off. They can be a sign that your infection has gone from HIV to AIDS. You might have:
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What Is Undetectable Hiv
To better understand the implications of living with undetectable HIV, it is important to first know the difference between undetectable HIV and HIV that goes undetected. Undetectable HIV refers to having a viral load under 200 copies/mL. Patients with undetectable HIV are still considered HIV positive, but the amount of virus in their bodies has diminished below the point of detectability, often due to successful antiretroviral therapy . Undetected HIV, on the other hand, can simply refer to a situation in which an HIV-positive patient does not know they are infected with the virus. Because some people remain asymptomatic for many years after contracting HIV and never undergo STD screening, their condition can go undetected and be unknowingly spread to others.
Talk To Your Partner About Their Drug And Sexual History
Learning more about HIV risks can help you stay healthy. Even though it may be hard to do, ask your partner about his or her sexual history and whether he or she has ever shared needles. You might ask: Have you been tested for HIV? Have you ever had unprotected sex? Have you injected drugs or shared needles with someone else?
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What Does It Mean If Hiv Viral Load Is Undetectable
Although there is currently no cure for HIV, the right HIV treatment can help to increase CD4 count and lower viral load.
Viral load is the term used to describe the levels of the virus in the body. When treatment is taken correctly, viral load can become so low that its referred to as undetectable. While this does not mean that HIV has been cured, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it does mean that there is no longer a risk of passing the virus on to a partner during sex.
Its important to remember that many people with HIV infection may experience little to no symptoms – making it easy for the virus to go unnoticed and undiagnosed. Early detection of HIV and the correct HIV treatment and medication is key to going on to live a healthy life, which is why regular screening of your sexual health is crucial. Testing can be done with your local healthcare provider or from home with an at-home lab test.
LetsGetCheckeds at-home STI Tests detect some of the most common sexually transmitted infections. The blood test for HIV involves a simple finger-prick sample and online results will be available within 2-5 days. Our dedicated medical team will be available throughout the process to provide medical advice, support, and guidance.
You consider taking a test if: