How Is Hiv Treated
There is no vaccine or cure for HIV infection. However, there are effective treatments that can prevent the transmission of HIV and the progression to AIDS, and help ensure a near-normal life expectancy.
These treatments are known as antiretroviral therapy . They stop the virus from reproducing itself, which leads to a lower viral load. The treatment involves a combination of drugs used together.
HIV-positive people who take ART daily exactly as prescribed and achieve an undetectable viral load cant sexually transmit the virus to an HIV-negative partner.
Thanks to the improvements in treatment, HIV infection is now a manageable chronic disease for many people in countries like Australia.
How Hiv Infects The Body
HIV infects the immune system, causing progressive damage and eventually making it unable to fight off infections.
The virus attaches itself to immune system cells called CD4 lymphocyte cells, which protect the body against various bacteria, viruses and other germs.
Once attached, it enters the CD4 cells and uses it to make thousands of copies of itself. These copies then leave the CD4 cells, killing them in the process.
This process continues until eventually the number of CD4 cells, also called your CD4 count, drops so low that your immune system stops working.
This process may take up to 10 years, during which time you’ll feel and appear well.
Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021 Next review due: 22 April 2024
Immunologic Control Of Hiv
The primary mechanism for immunologic control of HIV appears to be CD8+ cytotoxic T-cells. T-cell responses are correlated with the steady-state viral load and hence, the rate of progression. Cellular immunity is apparently responsible for some multiply-exposed, but uninfected individuals.
Although antibodies against HIV can be detected, it is clear that they are not sufficiently neutralizing to assist with immunologic control of the infection.
The role of NK cells may be important in the initial control of HIV. Escape mutations have been detected, implying that immunologic pressure on HIV exists from NK cells.
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How Do People Get Aids
AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, a disease that makes it hard for the body to fight off infectious diseases. The human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS by infecting and damaging part of the bodys defenses against infection, namely the white blood cells known as CD4 helper lymphocytes .
How does someone become infected? HIV can be spread through any type of unprotected sex if one of the partners has the virus. This can happen when body fluids such as semen , vaginal fluids, or blood from an infected person get into the body of someone who is not infected. Someone can become infected even if only tiny amounts of these fluids are spread. Everyone who has unprotected sex with an infected person is at risk of contracting HIV, but people who already have another sexually transmitted disease are even more at risk.
HIV can be spread sexually from a guy to a girl, a girl to a guy, a guy to a guy, and a girl to a girl.
Sharing needles to inject drugs or steroids is another way that HIV can be passed to other people. Sharing of needles for tattoos, piercings, and body art can also lead to infection. Someone with HIV who shares a needle also shares the virus, which lives in the tiny amounts of blood attached to the needle. Sharing needles also can pass hepatitis and other serious infections to another person.
When Should I Get Tested For Hiv
If you think you could have HIV or are at risk of HIV, talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about having a test. Some people at high risk need to be tested regularly.
You should get tested for HIV if:
- you have had unprotected sex with a partner whose HIV status is unknown or who has HIV but does not have a measurable amount of virus in their blood
- you have had unprotected sex with a person from a country that has high rates of HIV infection
- your sexual partner has recently travelled to a country that has high rates of HIV infection and may have had unprotected sex there
- you have had unprotected sex with a sex worker in Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia or Papua New Guinea
- you have ever shared injecting equipment
Early diagnosis is important and can improve the long-term course of the illness.
It is a good idea to talk to your doctor or sexual health clinic about other STIs at the same time.
Your information will be kept confidential unless there are major concerns for your safety or the safety of others. HIV is a notifiable disease, which means laboratory staff need to inform the government about new cases, but this information is also confidential.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Most people have no symptoms or just a mild flu-like illness when they are first infected, and it may be difficult to tell the HIV apart from other viral infections. This illness, called seroconversion illness, often occurs around 10 to 14 days after infection.
Seroconversion illness can have a range of symptoms, including:
- swollen lymph glands in the neck, underarm or groin areas
After the initial illness, people with HIV infection usually have no other symptoms. However, the virus remains in the body.
Phases Of Hiv Infection
Clinical HIV infection undergoes 3 distinct phases: acute seroconversion, asymptomatic infection, and AIDS. Each is discussed below.
Animal models show that Langerhans cells are the first cellular targets of HIV, which fuse with CD4+ lymphocytes and spread into deeper tissues. In humans, rapid occurrence of plasma viremia with widespread dissemination of the virus is observed 4 days to 11 days after mucosal entrance of the virus.
There is no fixed site of integration, but the virus tends to integrate in areas of active transcription, probably because these areas have more open chromatin and more easily accessible DNA. This greatly complicates eradication of the virus by the host, as latent proviral genomes can persist without being detected by the immune system and cannot be targeted by antivirals.
During this phase, the infection is established and a proviral reservoir is created. This reservoir consists of persistently infected cells, typically macrophages, and appears to steadily release virus. Some of the viral release replenishes the reservoir, and some goes on to produce more active infection.
The proviral reservoir, as measured by DNA polymerase chain reaction , seems to be incredibly stable. Although it does decline with aggressive antiviral therapy, the half-life is such that eradication is not a viable expectation.
Asymptomatic HIV infection
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Calculating Life Expectancy With Hiv Or Aids
Recent research shows that a young person with HIV or AIDS could potentially live almost as long as anyone else in the general population. But this is only the case if they have routine access to health care and respond well to modern antiretroviral treatments . So a 20-year-old who starts on ARTs today, for example, might eventually live to be 67.
Keep in mind though, since there is no known cure, HIV life expectancy varies greatly from one individual to the next based on many things. This includes early detection plus, gender and lifestyle choices such as alcohol, tobacco, or drug use.
Over the past two decades, HIV life expectancy has drastically risen. What was once considered a terminal illness is now a medically manageable condition at any age. Those who abuse intravenous drugs or possess a preexisting immune disorder, however, do not fare as well.
In light of huge disparities in access to health care and ARTs, the CDC regularly publishes reports on obstacles to HIV and AIDS treatment. By 2016, it was estimated that 1.1 million people in the U.S., aged 13 or older, had HIV .
Hiv Is An Infection That Can Lead To Aids
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Its a virus that breaks down certain cells in your immune system . When HIV damages your immune system, its easier to get really sick and even die from infections that your body could normally fight off.
About 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and more than 38,000 new infections happen every year. Most people with HIV dont have any symptoms for many years and feel totally fine, so they might not even know they have it.
Once you have HIV, the virus stays in your body for life. Theres no cure for HIV, but medicines can help you stay healthy. HIV medicine lowers or even stops your chances of spreading the virus to other people. Studies show that using HIV treatment as directed can lower the amount of HIV in your blood so much that it might not even show up on a test when this happens, you cant transmit HIV through sex.Treatment is really important . Without treatment, HIV can lead to AIDS. But with medicine, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives and stop the spread of HIV to others.
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Whats The Hiv Window Period
As soon as someone contracts HIV, it starts to reproduce in their body. The persons immune system reacts to the antigens by producing antibodies .
The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within 23 to 90 days after transmission.
If a person takes an HIV test during the window period, its likely theyll receive a negative result. However, they can still transmit the virus to others during this time.
If someone thinks they may have been exposed to HIV but tested negative during this time, they should repeat the test in a few months to confirm . And during that time, they need to use condoms or other barrier methods to prevent possibly spreading HIV.
Someone who tests negative during the window might benefit from post-exposure prophylaxis . This is medication taken after an exposure to prevent getting HIV.
PEP needs to be taken as soon as possible after the exposure it should be taken no later than 72 hours after exposure but ideally before then.
Another way to prevent getting HIV is pre-exposure prophylaxis . A combination of HIV drugs taken before potential exposure to HIV, PrEP can lower the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV when taken consistently.
Timing is important when testing for HIV.
How Could You Get Hiv From Contact With Blood
The risk of HIV transmission through blood comes when the person has a detectable viral load and their blood enters another persons body or comes into contact with a mucous membrane. These are parts of the body with wet, absorbent skin such as the:
- inside of the anus
Theres also a risk if blood from a person who has a detectable viral load comes into contact with a cut or broken skin, giving HIV a way through the skin and into someones bloodstream. If blood gets onto skin that isnt broken, there is no risk.
In a medical setting, its possible for HIV to be transmitted by someone accidentally cutting themselves with a blade or needle they have used to treat a person living with HIV.
This is called a needlestick injury. The risk of being infected in this way is very low. However, if someone thinks they have been exposed to HIV through a needlestick injury, post-exposure prophylaxis may be an option.
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Strategies For Preventing The Transmission Of Hiv
Condoms made of latex provide good protection against HIV , but they are not foolproof. Oil-based lubricants should not be used because they may dissolve latex, reducing the condom’s effectiveness.
Other measures can help. For men, circumcision, an inexpensive, safe procedure, reduces the risk of becoming infected during vaginal intercourse with an infected woman by about half. Whether circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection in other circumstances is unclear. Because circumcision provides only partial protection against HIV infection, people should also use other measures to prevent HIV infection. For example, if either partner has a sexually transmitted disease or HIV infection, it should be treated, and condoms should be used correctly and consistently.
How Does Hiv Spread
HIV spreads when infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids enter the body. Because symptoms can be mild at first, people with HIV might not know they’re infected. They can spread HIV to others without knowing it.
HIV can spread:
- during sex
- through sharing needles for injecting drugs or tattooing
HIV also can pass from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
HIV does not spread through:
- pee, poop, spit, throw-up, or sweat
- coughing or sneezing
- sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses
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How Can You Get Hiv
HIV is found in the following bodily fluids of someone living with the virus:
- vaginal fluids
For you to get HIV, these bodily fluids need to get into your blood through a mucous membrane , via shared injecting equipment, or through broken skin .
There is not enough HIV virus in other bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat or urine, to transmit it from one person to another.
Someone living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load, meaning effective treatment has lowered the amount of virus in their blood to levels where it cannot be detected by a normal blood test, cannot pass on HIV.
A person living with HIV with a detectable viral load can pass the virus to others whether they have symptoms or not.
HIV is most infectious in the first few weeks after infection. At this time many people are unaware of their status.
The main ways you can get HIV are:
Says The Question About How Her Hiv Infection Happened Is Unhelpful And She Feels Annoyed That
Well as I say it’s my husband, maybe he is not the one. I think it is the clinic, maybe it is not the clinic. Or maybe it’s your ex-boyfriend you met before because sometimes it can stay in your system for years without coming out. So it’s very difficult to pinpoint and say it’s this one. And that is the question we always get when we go to some of the GPs, the GPs, the question they ask you, ‘How did you get it? Do you know who gave it to you?’ It’s so annoying, its so annoying. You know, when someone is asking you that silly question ‘How did you get it?’ I went through that a long time ago when I was diagnosed and you know the memories still come back and the wound is open again. It is so awful. And they should understand that And if I knew I was going to get it I think I would have run away from HIV, because I would know that HIV is coming. But I didn’t know. I didn’t buy it!
Although people do sometimes get HIV from having unsafe sex only once, HIV transmission does not necessarily happen every time you have unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner. The risk is very low indeed if the HIV positive person is on effective treatment .
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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.
Cancers Common In People With Hiv Infection
Kaposi sarcoma Kaposi Sarcoma Kaposi sarcoma is a skin cancer that causes multiple flat pink, red, or purple patches or bumps on the skin. It is caused by human herpesvirus type 8 infection. One or a few spots may appear… read more , a cancer caused by a sexually transmitted herpesvirus, appears as painless, red to purple, raised patches on the skin. It occurs mainly in men who have sex with men.
Cancers of the immune system . Often, lymph nodes in the neck, under the arms, or in the groin enlarge rapidly and painlessly… read more ) may develop, sometimes first appearing in the brain. When the brain is affected, these cancers can cause weakness of an arm or a leg, headache, confusion, or personality changes.
Having AIDS increases the risk of other cancers. They include cancer of the cervix, anus, testes, and lungs as well as melanoma and other skin cancers. Men who have sex with men are prone to developing cancer of the rectum due to the same human papillomaviruses Human Papillomavirus Infection Human papillomavirus causes warts. Some types of HPV cause skin warts, and other types cause genital warts . Infection with some HPV… read more that cause cancer of the cervix in women.
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Contaminated Blood Transfusions And Organ/tissue Transplants
- receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV. This risk is extremely small because most countries test blood products for HIV first.
If adequate safety practices are not in place, healthcare workers can also be at risk of HIV from cuts made by a needle or sharp object with infected blood on it. However, the risk of occupational exposure, is very low in most countries.
If you think you have been exposed to HIV, the only way to find out if you have HIV is to have an HIV test.