How To Manage Hiv Symptoms
Antiretroviral medications are the first-line treatment for human immunodeficiency virus . Patients should be compliant with the medications to reduce the amount of virus in the body.
The various symptoms and their treatments are as follows
- Weight loss: In addition to the HIV medications , patients should eat a well-balanced diet and high-protein supplements and perform exercises to build muscle mass. The physician may prescribe medications such as Megace and to treat wasting syndrome commonly seen in HIV patients.
- Skin problems: Skin infections or dry itchy skin are usually treated with antifungal or antibacterial cream. Oral medicines may also be required.
- Herpes : Shingles can cause a painful, blisteringrash. Antiviral medications, pain relievers and calamine lotions are mainly used to treat rashes.
- Fever: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and applying cold compresses may bring down the temperature.
- Nagging cough: Dry cough can be due to an infection known as pneumocystis pneumonia. The physician may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Medicines to thin the mucus may also help.
- Diarrhea: Doctors may prescribe antidiarrheals to control diarrhea. Patients need to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
We Know That Men Who Have Sex With Men In Illinois Are At Higher Risk For Hiv What About Women Who Have Sex With Women
It is not a personâs gender, sexual orientation, race or class that puts them at risk for HIV. People are at risk for HIV when they practice risky behaviors. Women who identify as lesbian or gay can be at risk for HIV by practicing any of the behaviors that place women at risk. Lesbian women have become infected with HIV by using injection drugs or having unprotected sex with male or female partners who are already infected with HIV. Women who have sex with other women should follow guidelines in this fact sheet to protect themselves, and can call the Illinois AIDS/HIV/STD Hotline at 800-243-AIDS for specific information.
How Do You Know If The Drugs Are Working
After you’ve started taking drugs for HIV, your provider will look at how much HIV virus is in your bloodstream to see how well the drug therapy is working. If the drugs are working, your viral load goes down. You will have less of the virus in your bloodstream. A very important goal of treatment is to reduce the viral load to below the level that can be counted by laboratory tests, and to keep it there. This sometimes is called an “undetectable” level of HIV.
Other ways you and your provider can see if the drugs are working are:
- Your CD4 count. This number should stay the same or go up if your drugs are working.
- Your health checkups. Your treatment should help keep you healthy and help you fight off infections and diseases.
Recommended Reading: Who Is Most Likely To Contract Hiv
Tips For Staying On Your Treatment Plan
Before you start a treatment plan, you should:
- Get your health care provider to write everything down for you: names of the drugs, what they look like, how to take them , and how often to take them. This way, you’ll have something to look at in case you forget what you’re supposed to do.
- With your provider’s help, develop a plan that works for you.
The Effects Of Hiv On The Body
Most people are likely familiar with HIV, but they may not know how it can affect the body.
HIV destroys CD4 cells , which are critical to the immune system. CD4 cells are responsible for keeping people healthy and protecting them from common diseases and infections.
As HIV gradually weakens the bodys natural defenses, signs and symptoms will occur.
Find out what happens when the virus enters the body and interrupts its systems.
Once HIV enters the body, it launches a direct attack on the immune system.
How quickly the virus progresses will vary by:
- a persons age
- how quickly theyre diagnosed
The timing of their treatment can make a huge difference as well.
HIV targets the types of cells that would normally fight off an invader such as HIV. As the virus replicates, it damages or destroys the infected CD4 cell and produces more virus to infect more CD4 cells.
Without treatment, this cycle can continue until the immune system is badly compromised, leaving a person at risk for serious illnesses and infections.
However, not everyone with HIV will go on to develop AIDS. The earlier a person receives treatment, the better their outcome will be.
Early on, HIV symptoms may be mild enough to be dismissed.
Recommended Reading: How Long Should I Wait To Get Tested For Hiv
Will Having Hiv Affect My Pregnancy
Babies can get infected with HIV during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding thats why its recommended that everyone get tested early in pregnancy. If you have HIV, antiretroviral medications greatly lower your chances of giving HIV to your baby. With treatment, less than 2 out of 100 babies born to women with HIV will be infected. Without treatment, about 25 out of 100 babies will be infected.
What Can Effective Hiv Treatment Do
HIV medication keeps you healthy so you can live a normal lifespan.
Treatment can also reduce your viral load to undetectable levels so that you wont be able to pass on HIV to anyone else. It can take up to six months from starting treatment to become undetectable, so its important to test and start treatment on time.
Read Also: Can You Live With Someone With Hiv
Hiv Testing After A Recent Infection
If you are concerned about a possible recent HIV infection, you should take an HIV test. If this test result is non-reactive or negative, it can be repeated in a few weeks to be sure. Not everyone has symptoms after a recent infection and thus testing is the only reliable way to know whether you have HIV.
If you might have been exposed to HIV within the last 72 hours, you and your doctor should also discuss whether post-exposure prophylaxis is appropriate in your case. PEP is taken in order to prevent HIV from taking hold and to remain HIV negative.
The most accurate tests for HIV diagnosis after recent infection are antigen/antibody laboratory tests . An HIV antigen is part of the virus itself and is present in high levels in the blood between HIV infection and seroconversion. During seroconversion, HIV antibodies are produced by the body in response to infection and they persist for life.
“Symptomatic seroconversion illness occurs in at least 50%, and possibly as many as 80 or 90%, of infected individuals.”
HIV antigen/antibody tests will detect the majority of those infected with HIV within four weeks of infection but can sometimes detect infections as early as ten days afterward. While they are extremely accurate, they require blood to be drawn with a needle and results are not available immediately. These tests tend to be offered in hospital settings or for confirmatory purposes.
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.
Also Check: How Accurate Are Oral Hiv Tests
Reach Out To Others For Support
Many people with HIV have a very hard time figuring out whom to tell about their diagnosis. The best person to approach first, says Dr. Johnson, is someone whose response you can more or less expect will be supportive. Often these are people who have had a personal experience with HIV, but they can also be close friends or coworkers.
Its important to find at least one person you can confide in about your HIV status. Just talking with someone can help alleviate emotional distress so you can become more focused on solving problems, says Johnson. After you open up to at least one person, find someone else who can offer practical insight, including information about doctors, clinics, and treatments . For many people, this means joining a local or online support group.
If someone finds they dont know anyone living with HIV or they havent told people about their own HIV status, it can be very challenging, Johnson says. Try to get linked up with a support group if thats an option. This helps to normalize the experience, to get perspective from other people who are dealing with it.
Note that in the United States, many states and some cities have partner-notification laws. This means that if you test positive for HIV, you or your healthcare provider must tell your current or past sexual or needle-sharing partners.
Individual Symptoms Of Hiv Vary From One Person To Another If You Have An Active Sex Life Or Think You May Have Been Exposed To Hiv It Is Important To Get Tested Here Are Some Common Symptoms Of Hiv Many People Experience Severe Flu
Symptoms of HIV can vary between individuals however the first signs of infection generally appear within the first 1-2 months. Many, but not all, people will experience severe flu-like symptoms which is your bodys natural response to the virus. This is called the seroconversion period.
Its during this time that its crucial to identify if HIV is the cause, as your viral load is very high which greatly increases the risk of passing it on. And the only way to know for sure is by getting tested.
You May Like: Which Infection Is Most Often Seen In Hiv Patients
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.
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 won’t 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 person’s CD4 count gets low, doctors prescribe daily antibiotics. This prevents pneumocystis pneumonia, which happens in people with weakened immune systems.
Don’t Miss: How To Find Out If Someone Has Hiv Aids
How Do You Deal With Side Effects
Some side effects can be hard to deal with. One way to cope with them is to know what to watch out for and have a plan to deal with problems that come up.
That’s why you need to talk to your provider about the risk of side effects from different drugs, before you start therapy.
At the beginning of any treatment, you go through a period of adjustment–a time when your body has to get used to the new drugs you’re taking. Sometimes you’ll have headaches, an upset stomach, fatigue, or aches and pains. These side effects may go away after a few days or a few weeks.
If you notice any unusual or severe reactions after starting or changing a drug, report the side effects to your provider immediately.
More information is available in the Side Effects Guide.
How Do You Feel When You Have Hiv
Around two to four weeks after getting human immunodeficiency virus , the patient may experience the following symptoms
- Upset stomach
- Joint aches and pains
As the disease progresses, the patient may remain symptomless for quite some time. This stage is also known as clinical latency. During this stage, the virus multiplies at a low level. Without treatment, the patient may remain in this stage for 10 to 15 years. However, the virus remains active during this stage.
If left untreated, HIV progresses to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . AIDS can weaken the immune system causing several opportunistic diseases. The patient may experience the following severe symptoms in this stage:
- Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin or neck
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- Sores of the mouth, anus or genitals
Read Also: How Do You Know If You Contracted Hiv
When To Contact A Doctor
Anyone who is showing symptoms of HIV should contact a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially important if the individual has recently had sexual contact with someone else or shared a needle with someone else.
HIV can remain asymptomatic for a long time. For this reason, anyone who has recently had unprotected sex and is concerned about exposure to HIV should contact a doctor as soon as they can, even if they do not have any symptoms. The same goes for anyone who has recently shared a needle.
It can be difficult to discuss the possibility of having HIV. However, without proper treatment, HIV can be life threatening. In these situations, it is very important for people to put their long-term health first and to discuss the matter with a doctor.
The Most Common Symptoms Of Seroconversion Are:
- sore throat
- rash over the body.
Seroconversion is a sign that the immune system is reacting to the presence of the virus in the body. Its also the point at which the body produces antibodies to HIV. Once seroconversion has happened, an HIV test will detect antibodies and give a positive result.
Seroconversion illness happens to most people shortly after infection. It can be severe enough to put someone in hospital or so mild that its mistaken for something like flu although a blocked or runny nose is not usually a symptom.
If you do have HIV, your body fluids are highly infectious during the early weeks and months after transmission. However, once youre on effective treatment and your viral load becomes undetectable you cannot pass on HIV.
It can take up to six months from starting treatment to become undetectable.
You May Like: Can Hiv Ever Go Away
Coping With An Hiv Diagnosis
Once youve received an HIV diagnosis, youre going to need to figure out how to deal with it on a number of levels.
Many clinics offer post-test counseling, during which a health professional or public-health worker can discuss the HIV resources available to you, offer advice on how to talk with current and previous sexual partners, and help you understand the best ways to care for yourself. At first, it will be hard to absorb all this information, but if you find a way to focus, youll improve your chances of moving forward in a healthy way.
Everyone uses different coping strategies, and youll know that your approach is effective when any feelings of depression or anxiety begin to dissipate.
Where people get into trouble is if their coping strategies arent working and their distress persists, says the psychologist Mallory O. Johnson, PhD, a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. Some people turn to very negative, harmful forms of coping substance abuse is one. How people cope is central to how they function, and how they function is important to how they approach their HIV and get involved in their own treatment.
In other words, the better youre able to cope with the news of your HIV diagnosis, the more likely you are to be successful with your treatment.
How Do You Find Out If You Have Hiv
Whatever you feel, you do not have to go through it alone, and there are ways you can help yourself cope better. Youll usually be told your results in person. The doctor, nurse or health adviser will do another HIV test to confirm the result, assess your current health and refer you to specialist HIV services.
You May Like: What Are The Signs That You Are Hiv Positive
Stage : Acute Primary Infection
The early symptoms of HIV can feel like having the flu. Around one to four weeks after getting HIV, you may start to experience these flu-like symptoms. These normally dont last long . You may only get some of the symptoms and some people dont have any symptoms at all.
Symptoms can include:
- joint aches and pains
- muscle pain.
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. Timing varies but once you have HIV it can take your body up to a few months to go through the seroconversion process.
Having these symptoms alone does not mean you definitely have HIV. The only way to know if you have HIV is by taking a test. You should always visit your healthcare professional if youre worried about or think youve been at risk of getting HIV, even if you feel well and dont have any symptoms. They can then arrange for you to get tested.
HIV will not always show up in a test at this early stage, and you may need to test again later to confirm your result . Your healthcare professional will talk to you about the timing of your test and answer any concerns. Its important not delay speaking to a healthcare worker if you are worried about HIV.