Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How Does Someone Get Infected With Hiv

How Long Does It Take To Show Symptoms Of Hiv

How to Get Tested for HIV – Episode 4

The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks your bodys immune system. Left untreated, it can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . Early diagnosis is key to slowing down disease progression.

Symptoms may vary from person to person, but knowing the early symptoms that could present can help you get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

This article will discuss the various stages of HIV, how symptoms may present, how testing works, and what to expect if you test positive for the virus.

Verywell / Danie Drankwalter

How Antiretroviral Drugs Affect The Body

While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to very low levels. By doing this, it keeps the person healthy and prevents the transmission of the virus to other people.

A very low, or undetectable, viral load means that the risk of transmission to others is virtually zero, which has led to the phrase: undetectable = untransmittable .

Experts encourage all people with HIV, regardless of their CD4 T-cell count, to start taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after their diagnosis. Early treatment is key to a good outcome.

As with other medications, antiretroviral drugs can cause side effects in some people. However, modern drugs tend to produce fewer and less severe side effects than older drugs.

Possible side effects of antiretroviral drugs include:

  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • pain

Some side effects may last for a few days or weeks after the person starts treatment. Others may start later or last longer.

If a person experiences severe side effects that make them consider stopping treatment, they can talk to their healthcare provider. Stopping treatment or skipping doses can lead to drug resistance and limit a persons treatment options.

Some people can reduce some side effects by taking the medication 2 hours before going to bed. Other people may prefer to take it in the morning to prevent sleep disturbances.

Certain HIV drugs may also lead to less obvious changes, such as:

When Do Symptoms Occur

Some people have flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks after infection, but others may not feel sick or not develop symptoms at all until later.

See a healthcare provider if you have symptoms of HIV and think you may have been exposed to HIV. Getting tested for HIV is the only way to know for sure.

In the United States, HIV is spread mainly through having anal or vaginal sex or sharing needles or syringes with an HIV-positive partner. Anal sex is the highest-risk behavior.

You can prevent HIV by using condoms correctly every time you have sex pre-exposure prophylaxis, a prevention method in which the HIV-negative partner takes daily HIV medicine to prevent HIV and treatment as prevention, a method in which the HIV-positive partner takes daily HIV medicine to achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load.

Only antigen/antibody tests or nucleic acid tests can diagnose acute HIV infection. NATs look for actual virus in the blood, and antigen/antibody tests look for HIV antibodies and antigens. Antibodies are produced by your immune system when youre exposed to viruses like HIV, and antigens are foreign substances that cause your immune system to activate.

However, no test can detect HIV immediately after infection. NATs can usually tell if you have an HIV infection 10 to 33 days after exposure, while antigen/antibody tests can tell 18 to 45 days after exposure.

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mouth ulcers or sores

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What Is Acute Hiv Infection

There are three stages of HIV infection:

  • Stage 1:Acute HIVinfection
  • Stage 2:Chronic HIV infection
  • Stage 3:AIDS

Acute HIV infection is the first stage of the infection. Usually within two to four weeks of infection, two-thirds of those with HIV will experience flu-like symptoms. These symptoms may last for several days or even weeks. However, some people may experience no symptoms at all.

In this stage, there is a large amount of HIV in your blood, which is known as the viral load. Studies have noted incredibly high viral loads during the acute stage, meaning you are more contagious at this time.

How Do You Get Or Transmit Hiv

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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 , through open cuts or sores, or by direct injection .

People with HIV who take HIV medicine as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partnersthrough sex.

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Can I Become Infected If My Partner Has Hiv

A partnership where one person is infected with HIV and the other is not can be described as a sero-discordant relationship. There is a risk of HIV transmission if the discordant couple has unprotected sex. However, this risk can be greatly reduced with the use of condoms during vaginal, anal and oral sex. Both partners in a discordant sexual relationship should take on the responsibility of protecting one another from HIV infection.

How Is Hiv Spread From Person To Person

HIV can only be spread through specific activities. In the United States, the most common ways are:

Less common ways are:

  • An HIV-positive person transmitting HIV to their baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of perinatal transmission of HIV to less than 1% in the United States. Learn more.
  • Being exposed to HIV through a needlestick or sharps injury. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.

HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:

Learn more about how HIV is passed from one person to another.

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How To Delay The Progression Of Hiv To Aids

How does HIV turn into AIDS? Is it possible to delay the process? Yes. There is currently no cure for AIDS, but the condition can be delayed to give the person a longer period of good health. Each class of the medications works differently to control the virus. It is advisable to use a combination of three drugs from two classes.

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors . This class includes drugs like efavirenz, etravirine and nevirapine. These drugs work by disabling a protein required by the HIV virus to reproduce.
  • Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors . This class of drugs includes abacavir. The drugs work by producing faulty protein that resemble those used by the HIV virus to reproduce.
  • Protease inhibitors . This class includes atazanavir, darunavir, fosamprenavir and indinavir. These drugs inhibit protease, a protein required by the HIV virus to reproduce.
  • Entry or fusion inhibitors. Entry inhibitors include enfuvirtide and maraviroc. These drugs delay the development of AIDS by inhibiting the entry of the HIV virus into the CD4 cells.
  • Integrase inhibitors. Integrase inhibitors include raltegravir, elvitegravir and dolutegravir. Integrase is a protein used by the HIV virus to insert its DNA into the CD4 cells. These drugs function by inhibiting it.

When to Start Drugs

All people with HIV should be on antiretroviral drugs. However, drugs are particularly necessary in these situations:

Possible Side Effects

Symptoms Of Hiv/aids And Stages

Living with HIV

Many people donât have symptoms at first, and sometimes even for years or decades. But there are signs that can happen, such as flu-like symptoms soon after you become infected with HIV. Even if you donât feel sick, HIV damages the immune system. It hijacks infection-fighting white blood cells called CD4 cells and uses them to churn out thousands of copies of itself. Without treatment, HIV destroys so many of these cells that your body canât protect you from life-threatening infections. If your CD4 count drops below 200, you have AIDS.

There are three stages of HIV infection:

Stage 1: This the earliest stage. You may also hear it called the âacuteâ stage. You might have a fever, rash, fatigue, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. But you might not have any symptoms. If you do, they may start 2-4 weeks after youâre infected. During this time, the virus quickly makes many copies of itself.

Stage 2: During this stage, HIV continues to reproduce, and it slowly damages your immune system over time. You might not feel sick or have symptoms. But HIV isnât gone, and you can still spread it to other people. This stage can last for years or even decades.

Stage 3: This is when you have AIDS. Your immune system has been severely damaged, leaving you vulnerable to other illnesses. With AIDS, many people have symptoms such as chills, fever, sweats, swollen lymph glands, weakness, and weight loss.

Also Check: How Is Hiv Or Aids Transmitted

What We Know About Hiv Testing

About 1 in 7 people in the United States who have HIV dont know they have it. Getting an HIV test is the only way to know your HIV status. HIV testing is easier, more available, and more accurate than ever. There are three types of HIV tests available in the United States some can detect HIV sooner than others.

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 I Get Pregnant If I Have Hiv

Some people think that HIV hurts your chances of getting pregnant, but this isnt true. If you have HIV and want to become pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider. Together you can make a plan before you try to get pregnant to keep you, your partner and any future children healthy.

HIV can spread to your partner during unprotected sex and to your baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. Taking ART medications can greatly reduce your risk of transmitting HIV to your baby, especially if you have an undetectable viral load. Your provider may recommend that you dont breastfeed your baby and use formula instead.

Do Condoms Stop Hiv Being Passed On

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Yes.Using a condom correctly prevents contact with semen or vaginal secretions , stopping HIV from being passed on. The virus cannot pass through the latex of the condom.

Condoms should only be used with a water-based lubricant as oil-based lube weakens them.

People with HIV who are on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load cannot pass on HIV through any of their body fluids.

Its also important to remember that if you have sex without a condom other sexually transmitted infections can be passed on.

Sex without a condom can also result in pregnancy if other contraception is not being used.

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People Unaware Of Having Hiv

Its estimated that about 1 in 7 people living with HIV in the United States dont know they have the virus.

People who are unaware that they have HIV are less likely to take precautions to avoid transmission to other people. They also likely dont take medications to suppress the virus.

If you dont currently have HIV, you can prevent your chances of infection by:

  • discussing HIV and STIs with your partner before engaging in sexual activity
  • using a barrier method every time you engage in sexual activity
  • avoiding sharing needles
  • talking with your doctor about postexposure prophylaxis if you may have been exposed to HIV in the past 72 hours
  • getting tested for other STIs regularly or before engaging in sexual activity with a new partner

If you do have HIV, you can prevent transmitting it to others by:

  • discussing HIV and STIs with your partner before engaging in sexual activity
  • using a barrier method every time you engage in sexual activity
  • taking your medications as prescribed
  • avoiding sharing needles or drug injection equipment
  • having your viral load tested regularly as recommended by your doctor

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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How Do Sexually Transmitted Infections Affect People With Hiv

Sexually transmitted infections are very common among people who are sexually active. Anyone who has sex is at risk, including people with HIV. STIs are also commonly referred to as sexually transmitted diseases .

STIs are infections that are spread from person to person through sexual activity, including anal, vaginal, or oral sex. They are caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses.

HIV is an STI. Other types of STIs include:

  • ChlamydiaA common STI that can cause in infection in women and men. Chlamydia is easily treated and cured but can make it difficult to get pregnant if left untreated. Untreated chlamydia may increase a persons chances of getting or transmitting HIV.
  • Genital herpesA common STI, but most people do not know they have it. There is no cure, but there are treatments for the symptoms.
  • GonorrheaA common, treatable STI that can cause infection in the genitals, rectum, mouth, and throat. Untreated gonorrhea can increase a persons chance of getting or transmitting HIV.
  • Human papillomavirus The most common STI in the United States, but most people with HPV have no symptoms. HPV can cause some health effects, such as cervical cancer and anal cancer, and there is a higher prevalence of both among people with HIV. HPV is preventable by a vaccine .
  • SyphilisAn STI that can have very serious problems when left untreated. It is simple to cure with the right treatment.

How Can I Protect Myself

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The best way to protect yourself from HIV is to not have sex and not share needles.

If you decide to have sex, reduce your risk of getting HIV by:

  • using a condom every time you have sex
  • getting tested for HIV and making sure all partners do too
  • reducing the number of sexual partners you have
  • getting tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection

Understanding how HIV spreads can help you make safer choices about sex. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about HIV and if you want to get tested.

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What Are The Types Of Hiv Tests

There are three types of human immunodeficiency virus tests used to diagnose HIV infections

  • Antibody tests: These tests check for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid.
  • Antigen/antibody tests: These help to detect both HIV antibodies and antigens in the blood.
  • Nucleic acid tests: These look for HIV in the blood.

How To Be Safe When Coming Into Contact With Infected Blood

A condom will act as a barrier against any contact with blood during sex.

As well as sex, sharing equipment for injecting drugs is a way blood can get into someones body. This can be avoided by using fresh needles and not sharing needles, syringes and other equipment.

If a woman has HIV, her menstrual blood also carries a risk of transmission if she has a detectable viral load.

If youre HIV negative and taking pre-exposure prophylaxis youll be protected against getting HIV if you come into contact with infectious blood.

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