Sharing Needles And Injecting Equipment
If you inject drugs, you shouldn’t share needles, syringes or other injecting equipment such as spoons and swabs as this could expose you to HIV and other viruses found in the blood, such as hepatitis C.
Many local authorities and pharmacies offer needle exchange programmes, where used needles can be exchanged for clean ones.
A GP or drug counsellor should be able to advise you about free injecting equipment provision including needles.
If you are having a tattoo or piercing, it’s important that a clean, sterilised needle is always used.
Treating Stds And Hiv
Its important to get tested if you think youve been exposed to any STD or to HIV. Getting proper treatment can reduce your risk of serious complications and the chance of spreading it to others. Although the treatments for STDs and HIV are different, theres some overlap.
Treating an STD can help to slow the spread of HIV in your body. But STD treatments wont prevent or stop HIV. Similarly, the antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV wont prevent or cure STDs.
The treatments youll need for an STD depend on which one you have.
STDs caused by bacteria like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are treated with antibiotics. STDs caused by viruses like human papilloma virus , hepatitis B, and herpes cant be cured, but treatments can reduce your symptoms and your risk of passing them on to others.
HIV is also caused by a virus and cant be cured. But treatments can stop HIV from progressing to AIDS and can greatly reduce the risk of passing the virus on to sexual partners.
In fact, people who take antiretroviral drugs as directed and have an undetectable amount of HIV in their blood effectively have no risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
Viral STDs or HIV cant be cured, but many people living with them still lead full and active lives. When treated, these conditions dont cause symptoms and dont continue to damage your body. The virus will continue to live in your body, but the treatments will keep it from harming you.
When Should You Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it’s important to seek medical advice and to get tested as soon as possible.
Dr Dutt stresses that the only way to find out if you have HIV is to get tested, and an early diagnosis means you can access treatment sooner. This in turn can dramatically reduce your risk of becoming severely ill and passing the virus on to others.
If you start taking post-exposure prophylaxis within 72 hours of exposure to the virus, you may be able to prevent infection altogether. PEP involves taking HIV treatment every day for one month.
There is also PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis – a daily pill that can protect you from HIV. With this medication, you can have a normal sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner with reduced fear of becoming infected yourself.
Regardless of whether you test negative or positive, you may need to repeat the test between one and three months of being exposed to HIV, but you shouldn’t wait this long to seek treatment.
Putting off getting tested and leaving HIV untreated can cause you to develop AIDS, which may lead to death.
How do you know if you have HIV?
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Hiv Has A Powerful Opponent
Before 1996, contracting the HIV was basically a death sentence. But then, over the course of the next two decades, a regimen of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy evolved and came into use. This drug regimen helps prevent the virus from replicating and can help keep the infection from causing AIDS, transforming a fatal disease into a manageable one. These drugs have been an amazing scientific advancement, Dr. Santiago says. Most of the people who die nowadays are those who are unaware they have until symptoms become severe. Even people who think they may have been exposed to HIV have options if they act very quickly. The CDC advises you to alert your healthcare provider and start a regimen of ART medicines called post-exposure prophylaxis within 72 hours.
Is There A Period When The Virus Isnt Transmittable
HIV is transmittable soon after its introduced into the body. During this phase, the bloodstream contains higher levels of HIV, which makes it easy to transmit it to others.
Since not everyone has early symptoms of HIV, getting tested is the only way to know if the virus has been contracted. An early diagnosis also allows an HIV-positive person to begin treatment. Proper treatment can eliminate their risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.
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How Hiv Is Transmitted
The first step in determining whether you are at risk of HIV is to better understand how the virus is transmitted.
HIV thrives in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Most people get infected when exposed to HIV through these fluids.
HIV is transmitted through:
HIV can also be passed from mother to child during childbirth, although this is less common in the developed world due to advances in prevention and treatment.
It is important to note that HIV cannot penetrate intact skin. The virus can enter the body either through porous mucosal tissues , through breaks in vulnerable tissues , or directly through the bloodstream.
HIV infection can occur with just one exposure, particularly in high-risk individuals.
By contrast, HIV does not thrive in saliva, urine, tears, or feces and cannot survive in infectious quantities when exposed to air and environmental conditions.
Lack Of Symptoms In Early Stages
ARS is common once a person has HIV. Still, this isnt the case for everyone. Some people have HIV for years before they know they have it. According to HIV.gov, symptoms of HIV may not appear for a decade or longer. This doesnt mean that cases of HIV without symptoms are less serious. Also, a person who doesnt experience symptoms could still transmit HIV to others.
Symptoms in early HIV tend to appear if the rate of cell destruction is high. Not having symptoms can mean that not as many CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell, are killed early on in the disease. Even though a person has no symptoms, they still have the virus. Thats why regular HIV testing is critical to prevent transmission. Its also important to understand the difference between a CD4 count and a viral load.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Aids
Having an infection with the HIV virus does not automatically mean that the patient has AIDS. As the HIV virus infects more and more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself, the patients immune system gets overwhelmed and begins to falter. When the immune system breaks down due to HIV infection, opportunistic infections like fungal infections, pneumonias, and cancers can occur. When this level of HIV infection occurs, it is called AIDS .
Some of the signs and symptoms of progression of HIV to AIDS are:
Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
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First Stage: Acute Hiv Infection Symptoms
Most people don’t know right away when they’ve been infected with HIV. But they may have symptoms within 2 to 6 weeks after theyâve gotten the virus. This is when your body’s immune system puts up a fight. It’s called acute retroviral syndrome or primary HIV infection.
- Ulcers in your mouth, esophagus, anus, or genitals
- Headache and other neurological symptoms
If you have symptoms like these and might have come into contact with someone with HIV in the past 2 to 6 weeks, go to a doctor and ask that you get an HIV test. If you donât have symptoms but still think you might have come into contact with the virus, get tested.
Early testing is important for two reasons. First, at this stage, levels of HIV in your blood and bodily fluids are very high. This makes it especially contagious. Second, starting treatment as soon as possible might help boost your immune system and ease your symptoms.
A combination of medications can help fight HIV, keep your immune system healthy, and keep you from spreading the virus. If you take these medications and have healthy habits, your HIV infection probably wonât get worse.
Your Stomach Feels Off
A trio of gastrointestinal symptomsdiarrhea, nausea, and vomitingmay also be a marker for initial HIV infection, says Amruta Padhye, M.D., an infectious disease specialist at the University of Missouri Health Care. With rising viremia , the immune system is in a state of hyperactivation, she explains.
Bottom line? Your GI distress might not be just a stomach bug, so get it checked out if youre at risk for HIV.
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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What Is An Hiv Test
A confidential HIV test can be performed by your doctor. There are three types of tests that look at your bodily fluids to check for signs of HIV: nucleic acid tests , antigen/antibody tests, and antibody tests.
- NAT tests require drawing your blood to look for both the presence of HIV and how much of the virus is present, known as your viral load. The benefit of a NAT test is that it can detect HIV earlier than other types of tests. The downside is that these tests are very expensive. Typically, we use this test if youre exhibiting HIV infection symptoms or if youve had a high risk of exposure to the virus.
- Antigen/Antibody tests also draw blood, although there is a rapid test that requires a finger stick. This type of testing searches for antibodies that are produced in the blood by your immune system to fight the HIV invading cells. If HIV is in your body, you will produce an antigen called p24. The test looks for p24 as well as the antibodies that signal your body is fighting the infection.
- HIV Antibody tests just look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluids. These tests also require blood to be drawn from a vein.
The time for receiving test results spans several days to less than a few hours. Talk with your doctor about what type of test is right for you.
Multiclass Combination Drugs Or Single
The following combination drugs include both NRTIs and NNRTIs:
- doravirine, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- efavirenz, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- efavirenz, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- · efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- emtricitabine, rilpivirine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
- emtricitabine, rilpivirine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Symfi and Symfi Lo are made up of the same generic medications. However, Symfi Lo contains a smaller dose of efavirenz.
The following combination drugs include NRTIs, an INSTI, and the CYP3A inhibitor cobicistat:
- elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
- elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
The following combination drugs include at least oneNRTI and an INSTI:
- abacavir, dolutegravir, and lamivudine
- bictegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
- dolutegravir and lamivudine
The following combination drug includes an NNRTI and an INSTI:
- dolutegravir and rilpivirine
The following combination drug includes NRTIs,a PI, and the CYP3A inhibitor cobicistat:
- darunavir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Many HIV drugs can cause temporary side effects when first used. In general, these effects can include:
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Days To 20 Years After Exposure
The chronic stage of infection occurs once the immune system brings the virus under control. During this phase, HIV will go into hiding, where it resides in various cells and tissues throughout the body in a dormant state known as latency. HIV latency can persist without symptoms for 10 years or more, although some people may experience signs within a year or two.
During the early chronic phase, lymphadenopathy may be the only notable sign of an HIV infection. In some cases, the glands may be visibly enlarged and reach up to an inch or more in size. If the condition persists for more than three months, its referred to as persistent generalized lymphadenopathy .
Even during latency, the virus will multiple imperceptibly and gradually deplete immune cells known as CD4 T-cells. As immune deficiency develops, a number of nonspecific symptoms are likely to appear, including:
- Oral candidiasis , a fungal infection that causes the formation of creamy, white lesions on the sides of the tongue and lining of the mouth
- Unexplained fevers and drenching night sweats that soak through bedsheets and nightclothes
- Severe, uncontrolled diarrhea that lasts for more than three days
Each of these symptoms is commonly seen in persons with immune deficiency. They may, in some cases, be caused by HIV itself or by an infection that has yet to be diagnosed.
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.
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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:
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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You Can Have Hiv And Not Know It
When some people are first infected with HIV, they can experience flulike symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, sore throat, and muscle and joint pain within the first two to four weeks. But many other people wont experience any symptoms at all during this early stage of infection, the CDC reports, and they can spread the virus without realizing it. The only way to know for sure whether you or your partner is HIV positive is to get tested. Late-stage HIV before it becomes AIDS does cause symptoms, but these can be confused with other ailments.
How To Tell If Symptoms Are Hiv
There are three types of HIV tests:
- An NAT involves drawing blood from a vein. It can tell if you have HIV or how much virus is present in your blood. While an NAT can detect HIV sooner than other types of tests, this test is very expensive and not routinely used for screening individuals unless they recently had a high-risk exposure, or a possible exposure and have early symptoms of HIV infection. This test takes several days for results to come back.
- An antigen/antibody test is recommended for testing done in labs and is now common in the United States. It involves drawing blood from a vein, and results take several days to come back. There is also a rapid antigen/antibody test available that is done with a finger prick and takes 30 minutes or less to get results.
- HIV antibody tests only look for antibodies to HIV in your blood or oral fluid. In general, antibody tests that use blood from a vein can detect HIV sooner after infection than tests done with blood from a finger prick or with oral fluid. Antibody tests can detect an HIV infection 23 to 90 days after exposure. Most rapid tests and the only currently approved HIV self-test are antibody tests. They take 20 minutes or less to provide results.
Keep in mind, any positive result would necessitate a second test to confirm it. The only test that would not require a second confirmatory test is the NAT.
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