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How Does Hiv Affect The Body Physically

Looking After Your Emotional Wellbeing

how does hiv affect the body (hiv life expectancy)

Talking about your experiences and feelings with a loved one, friend or another person with HIV can be a big help. When you are finding your thoughts and feelings difficult to understand or work through, psychological therapies can be helpful. Your HIV clinic should be able to help you find a suitable therapist if they dont offer such services themselves.

Looking after the basic requirements of life getting enough sleep, eating properly and managing stress provides an important foundation for your emotional wellbeing. So, if you are having problems with these daily activities for any reason, it may be good sense to ask for professional help.

Trouble sleeping is a widely reported psychological disorder, both in the general population and among people living with HIV. Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep can be the result of worry, stress or mental health problems, or the cause of them.

“Finding ways of interacting with other people in ways that you are comfortable with is important to good emotional wellbeing.”

Feeling isolated can be a source of distress, or can make feelings of distress worse. Finding ways of interacting with other people in ways that you are comfortable with is important to good emotional wellbeing. Many HIV support organisations offer one-to-one and group peer support. You can get support online if you prefer. You may also want to join non-HIV-related organisations, based on your interests, to meet other people and help you feel less alone.

How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv

You can only get HIV by coming into direct contact with certain body fluids from a person with HIV who has a detectable viral load. These fluids are:

  • Blood
  • Semen and pre-seminal fluid
  • Rectal fluids
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Breast milk

For transmission to occur, the HIV in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane open cuts or sores or by direct injection.

People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.

The Female Genital Tract And The Sexual Transmission Of Hiv

Worldwide, the main way that females get infected with HIV is through sex with males. In Canada, 79% of new HIV infections among females were attributable to heterosexual sex in 2014.1 However, not all sexual exposures to HIV actually lead to infection.2 On average, there is about a 1 in 1,200 chance of females getting HIV when exposed to the virus through vaginal sex.3 The female genital tract has innate protective defences that can trap, inactivate or fight HIV before it causes infection, so that most exposures do not result in infection.

For HIV to be transmitted sexually there needs to be an exposure to HIV that carries a risk of transmission. There are three necessary components for sexual transmission of HIV to occur: fluid, route and activity. First, there needs to be a bodily fluid from a person living with HIV that contains enough HIV to cause infection. Next, this fluid needs a route of entry into the body of an HIV-negative person. Finally, there needs to be an activity that brings the fluid and the route together. For example, vaginal sex is an activity that can bring a fluid such as semen or pre-ejaculate from an HIV-positive person into contact with the lining of the female genital tract, which HIV uses as a route for infection.

After the vagina and cervix of an HIV-negative person has been exposed to a fluid containing HIV, there are two important steps that HIV needs to take to cause an infection:

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Hiv Effects On The Immune System

Your immune system has many types of white blood cells that fight infection. HIV gets inside a kind called CD4 cells and makes copies of itself. The virus kills the cell, and the new viruses go off to find more.

Your body responds by making more CD4 cells, but after a while, it canât keep up with the virus. This makes your immune system weak. Youâre more likely to get sick, even from common germs. Infections last longer, are more severe, and might come back more often.

If you follow your doctorâs directions with ART, it knocks out HIV, stopping it from infecting more CD4 cells and from weakening your immune system.

How Does Chronic Hiv Affect The Body

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The chronic HIV stage is known as the latent or asymptomatic stage. During this stage, a person usually wont have as many symptoms as they did during the acute phase. This is because the virus doesnt multiply as quickly.

However, a person can still transmit HIV if the virus is left untreated and they continue to have a detectable viral load. Without treatment, the chronic HIV stage can last for many years before advancing to AIDS.

Advances in antiretroviral treatments have significantly improved the outlook for people living with HIV. With proper treatment, many people who are HIV-positive are able to achieve viral suppression and live long, healthy lives. Learn more about HIV and life expectancy.

A normal CD4 count ranges from approximately 500 to 1,600 cells per cubic millimeter of blood in healthy adults, according to

A person receives an AIDS diagnosis when they have a CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells/mm3.

A person may also receive an AIDS diagnosis if theyve had an opportunistic infection or another AIDS-defining condition.

People with AIDS are vulnerable to opportunistic infections and common infections that may include tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, and pneumonia.

People with weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to certain types of cancer, such as lymphoma and cervical cancer.

The survival rate for people with AIDS varies depending on treatment and other factors.

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How Aids And Hiv Affects The Body

When HIV uses the cell’s genetic material, it damages the T-cell making it unable to do its job in our immune system. The more of these CD4, or T-cells that are damaged, the weaker your immune system becomes. Eventually, your immune system will become so weak that it will not be able to protect you from other illnesses and infections, thus you become sick. HIV does not make you sick, but it weakens your immune system, allowing other illnesses and infections to make you sick. Those with HIV and AIDS are usually susceptible to tuberculosis and other kinds of otherwise rare infections of the lung–such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, infections of the surface covering of the brain, or meningitis, or the brain itself or encephalitis. The immune defect caused by having too few CD4 cells also permits some cancers that are stimulated by viral illness to occur. Some people with AIDS get forms of lymphoma and a rare tumor of blood vessels in the skin called Kaposi’s sarcoma. People who have AIDS tend to keep getting sicker, especially if they are not taking antiviral medications properly.

Economics Of Hiv/aids Care

The HIV/AIDS pandemic has profoundly affected the economy, the work force, individual workers and their families, health care expenditures, the cost of labor, and savings and investments . AIDS is the second leading cause of death among adults in developing countries. It is projected that HIV will be responsible for almost 40% of all deaths from infectious diseases by 2020 . AIDS also has costly consequences, especially for the poor. Because AIDS affects people during their most productive years, it has negative consequences for worker productivity, family income, and national revenues . As the pandemic evolves, it widens the gap between available resources and the needs for care. Annual medical costs in African countries during 1990 to 1993 ranged from US$210 to US$936 per person . In industrialized countries during those years, costs ranged from US$20,000 to US$57,000 per person . The overall cost of care in industrialized countries has increased steadily because of the increased number of AIDS cases, longer survival time, and increased use of expensive therapies.

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Effects Of Antiretroviral Drugs On The Body

Antiretroviral therapy helps people who have HIV live longer, healthier lives and lowers their risk of spreading the virus. The drugs can have side effects, many of which go away with time. Overall, the benefits outweigh the risks.

There are several kinds of antiretroviral drugs, and your doctor might combine them in different ways. Side effects can vary from drug to drug or from person to person.

Common side effects of these drugs include:

  • Upset stomach and vomiting

Kaminski, D. The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource: “HIV and Inflammation: A New Threat.”

Summit Medical Group: “HIV and the Eyes.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “How Does HIV/AIDS Affect the Eye?”

American Heart Association: “HIV and Cardiovascular Disease,” “Wellness Checklist: Know Where You Stand.”

American Family Physician: “Common Side Effects of HIV Medicines.” “Staying Healthy with HIV/AIDS: Potential Related Health Problems: Kidney Disease.”

New York State Department of Health: âHIV: The Basics.â

Merck Manual Consumer Version: âHuman Immunodeficiency Virus Infection.â

Mayo Clinic: âHIV/AIDS.â

Nemours/TeensHealth: âHIV and AIDS.â

AIDSinfo: âAIDS-Defining Condition,â âOpportunistic Infection ,â âSide Effects of HIV Medicines.â

CDC: âAIDS and Opportunistic Infections.â

Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice: âHIV and the Gastrointestinal Tract.â

American Dental Association: âHIV/AIDS and Dental Health.â âHIV Treatment.â

What Is The Hiv Prognosis If Not Treated

How does HIV affect the body and brain?

If untreated, HIV infection will progress to AIDS and the mortality rate is 90 percent. Though it cannot be cured, with appropriate treatment and precautions, patients can live up to a normal life expectancy .

The cause of death in HIV is usually due to serious complications from unusual opportunistic infections because of a weakened immune system or side effects of antiviral therapy.

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The Role Of Religion And Spirituality In Hiv

Even among those who actively turn away from religion , the need for spiritual guidance can remain strong. Even under the construct of “self-help” or “new age” enlightenment, religion and spirituality can provide HIV-positive people with a heuristic approach to improve their overall sense of physical and emotional well-being. Religious or spiritual goals can include:

  • Developing a compassionate life scheme
  • Encouraging personal mindfulness and self-reflection
  • Gaining greater self-acceptance and inner peace
  • Promoting positive thinking
  • Normalizing HIV in one’s life
  • Establishing HIV as a part of self rather than as self

Churches and spiritual organizations are uniquely positioned to provide these things. They are key to shaping social values and have the ability to influence public opinion. From a functional point of view, many have long directed charitable resources to HIV education, care, and treatment, while raising social awareness and community acceptance. Even the very act of praying for a person with HIV can provide that individual a sense of support that may be missing from his or her life.

How Are These Disorders Treated

No single treatment can cure the neurological complications of HIV/AIDS. Some disorders require aggressive therapy while others are treated as symptoms arise.

Neuropathic painchronic pain caused by damage to the nervous systemis often difficult to control. Medicines range from over-the-counter pain killers to anticonvulsant drugs, opiates, and some classes of antidepressants. Inflamed tissue caused by autoimmune or other conditions can press on nerves, causing pain. Such illnesses may be treated with corticosteroids or procedures such as plasma exchange, formally known as plasmapheresis, that clear the blood of harmful substances that cause inflammation.

Treatment options for AIDS- and HIV-related neuropsychiatric or psychotic disorders include antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Psychostimulants may also improve depression and reduce fatigue. Drugs such as cholinesterase inhibitors, which can temporarily improve or stabilize memory and thinking skills in people with dementia, may relieve confusion and slow mental decline. Benzodiazepines may be prescribed to treat anxiety. Psychotherapy may also help some individuals.

Other treatments may include physical therapy and rehabilitation, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to shrink cancerous brain tumors that may be related to HIV, antifungal or antimalarial drugs to combat certain bacterial infections associated with the disorder, and penicillin to treat neurosyphilis.

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Adjusting To Life With Hiv

Life involves emotional stresses and strains. Being diagnosed with HIV, and living with it, will at times cause such stresses, and some aspects of your life will become more complicated and possibly stressful because of HIV.

Finding out that you have HIV can lead to a wide range of feelings. It is common to feel fear, uncertainty, worry, concern about what other people will think, guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger and sadness after a diagnosis. Some people feel numb, and others feel a sense of relief that they have finally found out about their status.

It can be easy to assume the worst about life with HIV. Its possible that, before your diagnosis, no one told you that HIV treatment is now so effective that most people with HIV can expect to live as long as people who dont have HIV. Or that the medications also prevent the sexual transmission of HIV if you take anti-HIV drugs and have an undetectable viral load, you wont pass HIV on to your sexual partners.

The feelings people have about HIV can change over time, so your initial response to finding out that you have HIV is unlikely to last. Many people find that they gradually come to terms with having HIV, although some aspects of being HIV positive can still make them feel anxious or distressed.

drug interaction

Its also important to know that theres a lot you can do to look after your emotional wellbeing.

How Does Acute Hiv Affect The Body

The Effects of HIV on Your Body

Once a person contracts HIV, the acute infection takes place immediately.

Symptoms of the acute infection may take place days to weeks after the virus has been contracted. During this time, the virus is multiplying rapidly in the body, unchecked.

This initial HIV stage can result in flu-like symptoms. Examples of these symptoms include:

However, not all people with HIV experience initial flu-like symptoms.

The flu symptoms are due to the increase of copies of HIV and widespread infection in the body. During this time, the amount of CD4 cells starts to fall very quickly. The immune system then kicks in, causing CD4 levels to rise once again. However, the CD4 levels may not return to their pre-HIV height.

In addition to potentially causing symptoms, the acute stage is when people with HIV have the greatest chance of transmitting the virus to others. This is because HIV levels are very high at this time. The acute stage typically lasts between several weeks and months.

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What If There Is An Actual Or Suspected Exposure To Hiv

The decision to begin a post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection is based on the judgment of a health care professional and should be a joint decision with the exposed worker. PEP often involves taking a combination of 2 or 3 antiretroviral drugs for about 4 weeks. PEP can help reduce, but not eliminate, a personâs risk of infection. The PEP should begin as soon as possible, as it may be less effective if started more than 72 hours after exposure.

Occupational Groups Risking Exposure to the AIDS Virus

The occupational groups listed below risk exposure to HIV in the workplace. The table that follows suggests preventive measures for these groups. For many situations, using all protective barriers listed in the table is not necessary, but workplaces should always make them available in case of emergency response scenarios.

Surgeons, Nurses and Nurses Aides

Surgeons, nurses and nurses’ aides should take precautions to avoid needlestick injuries, cuts with sharp instruments and exposure through skin lesions to potentially infectious blood and body fluids.

Physicians and Laboratory Workers

These people continuously handle infectious samples. Doctors, in diagnosing HIV patients, carry out physical examinations and collect blood samples. Laboratory technicians analyze potentially infected samples.

Ambulance Workers

Dental Workers


Embalming the bodies of persons with a HIV infection presents a risk because HIV can live for hours in a deceased body.


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.

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What Is Hiv And Aids

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that infects the immune system. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome . AIDS is the most advanced stage of the HIV infection and causes the immune system to become vulnerable to other infections. HIV can also be known as “the AIDS virus.”

The full name for AIDS describes several of the characteristics of the disease.

Acquired indicates that it is not an inherited condition.

Immune Deficiency indicates that the body’s immune system breaks down.

Syndrome indicates that the disease results in a variety of health problems.

It takes on average, 5-10 years for the initial HIV infection to progress to AIDS if not treated. While there is presently no cure or vaccine for HIV, with proper medical care, HIV can be managed and a near-normal lifespan can be expected with early treatment.

Neurological Complications Of Hiv

Immunology wars: The battle with HIV

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV weakens and slowly destroys the bodys immune system, leaving you vulnerable to life-threatening complications from an infection or certain cancers.

As HIV and AIDS battle your immune system, your central nervous system is also affected. HIV and AIDS both cause a number of neurological complications, particularly if HIV progresses to AIDS.

Today, antiretroviral medicineswhen taken correctly and promptlyhelp to slow down the progression of HIV. They also help to delay the onset of or to decrease the risk of progression to AIDS. Controlling HIV can also reduce your risk for neurological complications of HIV.

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