How Do Hiv And Aids Affect The Immune System
HIV is a virus that attacks and weakens your immune system white blood cells called CD4 cells. These cells normally help fight infections.
While many effective treatments can help stop the progression of HIV, it can still sometimes lead to AIDS.
Thankfully, with new, effective, and very tolerable antiretroviral therapy regimens, this is becoming much less common. AIDS is more likely to develop with undiagnosed or untreated HIV, where the amount of virus in your blood may increase over 10 years or more .
With AIDS, your immune system is very damaged. This makes it harder for your body to defend itself against bacteria, viruses, and other germs. This may increase your risk of more frequent and more severe illnesses over time.
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.
Resources For Hiv And Aids Education And Prevention
Education is central to the goal of treating, preventing, and ultimately eradicating HIV and AIDS. The strategy for achieving that goal unites community organizations with research and social services agencies at all strata of government. The organizations are among the HIV and AIDS resources available to public health educators and the public.
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Difference Between A Virus And A Syndrome
The National Human Genome Research Institute describes a virus as a small bundle of genetic code, whether DNA or RNA, wrapped in a coat of protein. Viruses are unable to replicate on their own, so they depend on parts within the cells they infect to create copies of themselves. The replication process typically destroys the host cell and damages the host organism.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a syndrome as a group of medical problems that result from a single disease or mental condition. With AIDS, the group of medical problems that HIV causes all result from the viruss slow destruction of the persons immune system.
HIV.gov identifies AIDS as the most advanced stage of HIV infection. AIDS is diagnosed in two ways:
- When a person with HIV exhibits a condition associated with AIDS .
- When a person with HIV has a cluster of differentiation 4 thats less than 200 cells for every cubic millimeter CD4 is a glycoprotein thats found on the surface of T-helper cells and other immune system cells.
If I Have Hiv How Can I Keep From Spreading It To Others
The best ways to keep from spreading HIV to others are many of the same ways you use to protect yourself:
- Let sexual partners and anyone you inject drugs with know that you have HIV.
- Follow your treatment plan and dont miss medications. If you have an undetectable viral load, you greatly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV through sex.
- Talk to your sexual partner about taking PrEP.
- Wear condoms for vaginal, anal and oral sex even if you have an undetectable viral load.
- Dont share needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have.
- If youre pregnant and have HIV, following your treatment plan, including ART medications, can reduce your risk of transmitting the virus to your child.
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Can Hiv/aids Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by:
- Getting tested for HIV
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases
- Not injecting drugs
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV:
- PrEP is for people who don’t already have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it. PrEP is daily medicine that can reduce this risk.
- PEP is for people who have possibly been exposed to HIV. It is only for emergency situations. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
NIH: National Institutes of Health
What Is An Immunodeficiency Disorder
An immunodeficiency disorder is an umbrella term to describe any condition that compromises a healthy immune system. Doctors classify these as either primary or secondary .
Primary immune deficiency diseases develop due to gene mutations you inherit. These mutations affect your immune system in a variety of ways. Some PIDDs subtly affect your immune system, but others can have very serious effects.
- leukocyte adhesion deficiency
- LABA deficiency
Unlike PIDDs, which are inherited, secondary immunodeficiency disorders develop due to exposure to environmental factors. These include viruses and toxins.
HIV and AIDS are secondary immunodeficiency disorders because they develop from a virus, not a gene mutation. Other examples of secondary immune deficiencies may include a weakened immune system from chemotherapy drugs and malnutrition.
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Educating People On Prevention And Treatment Strategies
The cornerstone of efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS is widespread testing. As stated above, approximately one in seven people in the U.S. with HIV dont know theyre infected. Educating people about the need for testing and for appropriate precautions after testing positive would reduce the rate of infection substantially, according to the CDC.
By delivering a timely diagnosis, testing allows people with HIV to receive the treatment they need to maintain a healthy immune system and keep AIDS at bay. HIV.gov emphasizes recent improvements in HIV testing that identify infections sooner, which reduces the chances of the person transmitting the disease during the acute phase of the infection when viral loads are highest and the risk of another person contracting the virus is highest.
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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Hiv Is First And Foremost A Virus
Simply put, both HIV and AIDS are caused by the same human immunodeficiency virus but represent two different stages of the disease. Thought it might sound confusing at first, doctors, scientists, and the media use the term HIV to both describe the virus and the infection it causes. The distinction becomes clear once you understand the context the term is used in.
Its not clear yet but the consensus seems to be that the virus appeared sometime in the late 19th or early 20th century in Western and Central Africa. The virus initially appeared in a non-human primate and was then transmitted to people after someone killed and ate the infected creature.
In the United States, AIDS was first recognized as a distinct condition in 1981 due to an increase in the incidence of rare opportunistic infections and cancers in homosexual men. Theres actually a rather freakish backstory about these early days of HIV/AIDS research. Weve covered before the story of a Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas who for decades has been wrongly labeled as the patient zero the source of HIV infections in the United States. It was only recently that his name was cleared.
During the latent period, an HIV infected person can feel no symptoms for years. Symptoms will arise once HIV infection turns into AIDS.
Another widely used HIV test looks for specific proteins produced by the virus called antigens. This test can accurately detect HIV mere days after infection.
Treatment Of Hiv And Aids
- Myth: Pre-exposure prophylaxis medication allows HIV-positive people to have unprotected sex without any risk.
- Fact: PrEP medication has been shown to be effective for preventing HIV transmission when taken daily. However, PrEP doesnt protect people against other sexually transmitted diseases, as Healthline points out. A 2015 Kaiser Permanente study found that half the PrEP patients in the study contracted a sexually transmitted disease within 12 months.
- Myth: HIV always leads to AIDS.
- Fact: Richard Jimenez, a professor of public health at Walden University, states in Healthline that todays therapies keep HIV infection levels low. The therapies also help people prevent opportunistic infections and maintain a robust immune system. As a result, their HIV never progresses to AIDS.
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Efforts To Overcome Hiv And Aids Education Challenges
The greatest challenge to HIV and AIDS education efforts in the U.S. and worldwide is the COVID-19 pandemic. Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria examines the impact the coronavirus has had on the most vulnerable communities who suffer the highest rates of HIV/AIDS as well as tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases.
When the AIDS epidemic began 40 years ago, the goal of governments, researchers and healthcare providers was to stop it from spreading and develop effective treatments. Today, the challenges are much different, as a recent United Nations meeting on AIDS discussed:
- Wipe out AIDS by 2030.
- Face sensitive issues relating to sex between men, drug use, prostitution and sex trafficking.
- Use new communication methods to reach young people with a message of prevention, testing and treatment.
Paying For Care Related To Hiv And Aids
Treatment for HIV and AIDs involves regular medical checkups to keep a close watch on the persons health. While many individuals with HIV and AIDS have private insurance to pay for much of the cost of care, other governmental and non-governmental sources are available to defray some or all related medical expenses. These include:
- The Affordable Care Act requires that private health insurance cover preexisting conditions, including HIV and AIDS, and prevents insurers from canceling coverage because the person becomes ill.
- Federal government assistance for health care expenses is available via Medicaid for people with low incomes and disabilities and some families with children.
- The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides primary medical care, support services, and medications to low income people with HIV and AIDS. The program also funds grants to states, counties, cities, and local groups that care for and treat people with HIV and that work to reduce the spread of the disease.
- Pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs that dispense free and low-cost antiretroviral medicine to HIV-infected people with low incomes.
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Populations Impacted The Most By Hiv And Aids
About 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV, although approximately 13% of infected individuals dont know it.
- Age groups. In 2019, the highest HIV infection rates per 100,000 people in the U.S. were among people ages 25 to 34 and ages 35 to 44 . The infection rate for all age groups was 12.6 per 100,000 people.
- Race/ethnicity. In 2019, the highest infection rates by race or ethnicity were among African Americans , Latinx/Hispanics , and people of multiple races . African Americans accounted for 44% of new HIV diagnoses, and Latinx/Hispanics accounted for 30% of new infections these groups represent only 13% and 18%, respectively, of the total U.S. population.
- Sex. In 2019, gay and bisexual men, as well as other men who have sex with men, accounted for 69% of new HIV infections in the U.S. Heterosexual women accounted for 16% of new infections, and heterosexual men accounted for 7% of new HIV infections.
How An Hiv Infection Develops Into Aids
As Medical News Today explains, a person with HIV who follows an effective treatment regimen is unlikely to have the virus lead to AIDS. However, if HIV is untreated, the persons immune system will continue to be damaged. The more compromised the immune system becomes, the more likely the person will develop an opportunistic infection.
The opportunistic infections that are most likely to affect AIDS patients include the following:
- Invasive cervical cancer, lung cancer, Kaposis sarcoma and other cancers
- Candidiasis, which is a fungal infection that affects the throat and lungs
- Pneumocystis pneumonia, which is a fungal form of pneumonia
- Toxoplasmosis, which is a parasitic infection that affects the brain
- Cryptococcosis, which is a fungal infection that often causes pneumonia
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How Do You Get Hiv
HIV is carried in semen , vaginal fluids, anal mucus, blood, and breast milk. The virus gets in your body through cuts or sores in your skin, and through mucous membranes . You can get HIV from:
having vaginal or anal sex
sharing needles or syringes for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has HIV-infected blood on it
getting HIV-infected blood, semen , or vaginal fluids into open cuts or sores on your body
HIV is usually spread through having unprotected sex. Using condoms and/or dental dams every time you have sex and not sharing needles can help protect you and your partners from HIV. If you do have HIV, treatment can lower or even stop the chances of spreading the virus to other people during sex. If you dont have HIV, theres also a daily medicine called PrEP that can protect you from HIV.
HIV can also be passed to babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. A pregnant woman with HIV can take medicine to greatly reduce the chance that her baby will get HIV.
HIV isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get HIV from kissing, sharing food or drinks, or using the same fork or spoon. HIV is also not spread through hugging, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing. And you cant get HIV from a toilet seat.
How To Know If You Have Aids
The list of difference between HIV and AIDS is not complete without knowing the symptoms in different stages.
- Stage One occurs 2-6 weeks after HIV exposure. Symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, fever, and red non-itchy rash, last 1-2 weeks, and are due to the immune systems initial defense against HIV.
- Stage Two begins after the first symptoms have disappeared and the immune system stops fighting the infection. This phase can last over a decade and not produce any symptoms. However, the HIV is gradually destroying CD4+ T-cells, increasing the risk of other infections.
- Stage Three or AIDS is diagnosed if there are under 200 CD4+ cells/mm3 of blood, or if the patient has an AIDS-defining illness, e.g. Pneumocystis pneumonia or Kaposis sarcoma. Other AIDS symptoms include night sweats, long-term fever, breathlessness, chronic diarrhea, lymph node swelling, weight loss, purple skin patches, bleeding, bruising, and yeast infections.
How Is HIV/ AIDS Transmitted?
The most common ways of acquiring HIV are through:
- Sexual intercourse with an HIV-positive person
- Needle-sharing with infected individuals
- Transmission from mother to baby in pregnancy or labor, or when breastfeeding
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How To Prevent Hiv From Advancing To Aids
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV. The best way to avoid AIDS is to start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. Taken every day as prescribed, these drugs will keep you healthy and make your viral level so low, it canât be detected. Sticking to the right treatment can keep AIDS at bay for years and decades. It also practically eliminates the chances that youâll pass HIV to your sexual partners and others. Many HIV-positive people live normal life spans.
Office on Womenâs Health: âHow is AIDS different from HIV?â and âOpportunistic Infections and Other Conditions.â
CDC: âHIV/AIDS: Statistics Overview â âAct Against AIDS: Basic Statistics â and âHIV in the United States: At a Glance.â
Medline Plus Medical Dictionary: âImmunodeficiency.â
AIDS.gov: âHIV Lifecycle.â
New York University Institute of Human Development and Social Change Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies: âHIV/AIDS Info.â
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: âHIV/AIDS.â
Department of Health & Human Services AIDSinfo: âHIV Overviewâ and âHIV Treatment.â
The Foundation for AIDS Research: âThirty Years of HIV/AIDS: Snapshots of an Epidemic.â
World Health Organization: “HIV/AIDS.”