Stage : Acute Hiv Infection
After a person comes into contact with HIV, the virus replicates quickly, and the blood contains high levels of the virus. At this time, it can easily transmit to others through blood, semen and preseminal fluids, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid, and breast milk.
Within 24 weeks of exposure to the virus, some people develop a nonspecific syndrome with a fever and other flu-like symptoms. This may last for several days or weeks.
Not everyone experiences these symptoms, however. If a person does not undergo testing, it is possible for HIV to progress without any indication that it is in the body.
The flu-like symptoms of a stage 1 HIV infection may include:
- swollen glands
- nausea or vomiting
These symptoms are collectively known as a seroconversion illness. They represent the bodys natural response to an infection as it attempts to kill off the virus. However, the human body cannot completely remove this virus once it is present.
At this stage, the virus replicates using the bodys CD4 T cells and spreads throughout the body. In doing so, it destroys CD4 T cells.
Eventually, this process stabilizes. The immune system reduces the number of viral particles, and levels of CD4 T cells may rise. However, the number of these cells may not return to its original level.
You Can Test Yourself For Hiv In The Privacy Of Your Own Home
Several at-home HIV tests have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and can be bought online or at a drugstore. Many of these tests ask consumers to prick their finger with a needle, place a few drops of blood on a blotter pad, and then mail the sample to a lab. Of course, you can also see your doctor for a conventional blood test or visit almost any public health center for a blood or saliva test . These centers also offer confidential on-site counseling. The CDC notes that if you get a positive result from any at-home test, youll have to get other testing to confirm the results.
Symptom : Night Sweats
Many people will get night sweats during the early stages of HIV. These can be even more common later in infection and arent related to exercise or the temperature of the room.
With such a vast array of symptoms, HIV testing is vital to ensure a proper diagnosis. If you think youve been exposed to HIV, or have an active sex life with casual sex partners, regardless of whether you are showing symptoms of HIV or not, its important to get tested as soon as possible.
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Other Factors Influencing Hiv Transmission Risk
Within each route of transmission, estimates of the risk of transmission vary widely, likely due to the role of behavioural and biological co-factors. Viral load appears to be an important predictor of transmission, regardless of route of transmission. However, the evidence indicates that viral load is not the only determinant, and other co-factors, such as the presence of co-infections, play a role in increasing or decreasing the risk of transmission.
The strongest predictor of sexual transmission of HIV is plasma viral load . A dose-response relationship has been observed, where each ten-fold increase in plasma VL resulted in an increased relative risk of transmission of 2.5 to 2.9 per sexual contact. The concentration of HIV in genital secretions also plays a major role in sexual transmission. While there is a strong correlation between HIV concentrations in plasma and in genital secretions, some studies have found genital tract HIV shedding in 20% to 30% of men and women without detectable plasma viral load. Much of what is known about the impact of viral load on the sexual transmission of HIV is derived from studies of heterosexual populations. Very little is known about the relationship between HIV viral load and rate of transmission through anal intercourse.
The Death Toll From Aids Is Astronomic
Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in 1981, more than 70 million people worldwide have been infected with the virus, and approximately 35 million people have died from AIDS, including more than 675,000 in the United States, according to agencies such as the World Health Organization and the CDC. People in other parts of the world are much more severely affected in sub-Saharan Africa, almost 1 in every 25 adults has HIV. Overall, however, the rate of new HIV infections and diagnoses is now dropping in the United States, likely thanks to prevention efforts, the CDC reports. But progress has been uneven. Certain groups, such as Hispanic and Latino gay and bisexual men, have had rising numbers of infections and diagnoses.
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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.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hiv And Aids
When first infected with HIV, a person may have:
- increased number of infections
- infections that are more severe than is typical
Without treatment, HIV can lead to a very weakened immune system and progress to AIDS. Illnesses that happen in AIDS are called “AIDS-defining conditions.”
AIDS-defining conditions include:
- very fast and severe weight loss
- a lung infection called pneumocystis pneumonia
- Kaposi sarcoma
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Causes Of Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph nodes have immune cells called lymphocytes in them. They attack bacteria, viruses, and other things that can make you sick. When you’re fighting off harmful germs, your body makes more of those immune cells — that causes the swelling.
Your lymph nodes come across all kinds of germs, so they can be swollen for lots of reasons. Usually, it’s something that’s relatively easy to treat, like:
- A virus, like a cold
- A bacterial infection, like an ear infection, skin infection, or infected tooth
Much less often, it can be a more serious illness. They can include:
- Tuberculosis, an infection that usually affects your lungs
- Lyme disease, an infection spread through a tick bite
- A problem with your immune system, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
- HIV/AIDS, an infection spread through sexual contact and IV drug use
- Certain kinds of cancer, including:
- Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system
- Leukemia, a cancer of the blood
Second Stage: Clinical Latency Symptoms
After your immune system loses the battle with HIV, the flu-like symptoms will go away. But thereâs a lot going on inside your body. Doctors call this the asymptomatic period or chronic HIV infection.
In your body, cells called CD4 T cells coordinate your immune systemâs response. During this stage, untreated HIV will kill CD4 cells and destroy your immune system. Your doctor can check how many of these cells you have with blood tests. Without treatment, the number of CD4 cells will drop, and youâll be more likely to get other infections.
Most people don’t have symptoms they can see or feel. You may not realize that you’re infected and can pass HIV on to others.
If youâre taking ART, you might stay in this phase for decades. You can pass the virus on to other people, but itâs extremely rare if you take your medicines.
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How Is Life Expectancy Calculated
Life expectancy is the average number of years that a person can expect to live.
More precisely, it is the average number of years an individual of a given age is expected to live if current mortality rates continue to apply. It is an estimate that is calculated by looking at the current situation of a group of people and projecting that into the future.
However, HIV is a relatively new disease and HIV treatment is a rapidly changing area of medicine. It is therefore hard to know whether our current experience will be an accurate guide to the future.
At the moment, there are large numbers of people living with HIV in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. Current death rates are very low, resulting in encouraging figures for future life expectancy. But we have very little experience of people living with HIV in their seventies or eighties, so we know less about the impact HIV may have later in life.
Also, healthcare for people with HIV is likely to get better in the future. People living with HIV will benefit from improved anti-HIV drugs that have fewer side-effects, are easier to take and are more effective in suppressing HIV. Doctors understanding of how best to prevent and treat heart disease, diabetes, cancers and other conditions in people with HIV is improving. This could mean that people actually live longer than our current estimates suggest.
If You Have A Negative Test Result Does That Mean That Your Partner Is Hiv
No. Your HIV test result reveals only your HIV status.
HIV is not necessarily transmitted every time you have sex. Therefore, taking an HIV test is not a way to find out if your partner is infected.
Its important to be open with your partner and ask them to tell you their HIV status. But keep in mind that your partner may not know or may be wrong about their status, and some may not tell you if they have HIV even if they know theyre infected. Consider getting tested together so you can both know your HIV status and take steps to keep yourselves healthy.
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Everyone Should Know Their Hiv Status
Thats why its so important for everyone to know their HIV status. The only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested.
CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. If your behavior puts you at risk after you are tested, you should think about being tested again. Some people who remain at higher risk should get tested more often.
What Are Viral Load Blips
Even if a person is durably undetectable and taking antiretroviral therapy daily as prescribed, they may experience small, transient increases in viral load called blips followed by a decrease back to undetectable levels. Having a blip is relatively common and does not indicate that antiretroviral therapy has failed to control the virus. Scientists are working to better understand what causes blips.
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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.
Why Is It Important To Know If Youve Got Hiv
Worrying about whether youve been infected with HIV can drive you nuts. All that stress is bad for your health..
Theres always a chance youll test negative and all your worrying was a waste. There are tons of misconceptions about how HIV gets transmitted. Some people who think they have been exposed have nothing to fear.
Lets hope thats true, but lets also be realistic. If youve ever had unprotected sex , theres a chance you could be infected.
If thats the case, you most definitely need to get tested and find out for sure. Heres why:
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Who Should Be Tested For Hiv And How Frequently
It is recommended that the consideration of HIV testing be made a component of routine care. In general, care providers should take an active approach to HIV testing, offering HIV testing to clients whether or not clients have asked for a test. In the provision of routine medical care, and in discussion with the client, care providers should consider whether there is a benefit to an HIV test.
HIV testing is associated with several advantages:
- a negative test result is an opportunity for clients to take an active role in remaining HIV negative
- the early detection of HIV, especially at the acute stage, can improve outcomes for individuals and prevent further transmission of HIV
- detection at any stage of the disease, prior to wasting and dementia, is an opportunity to initiate lifesaving treatment and other related healthcare services
- opportunities arise for conversations with clients about risk-reduction strategies
2.1.1 Testing recommendations
An in-depth comprehensive HIV behavioural risk assessment is not a requirement for offering an HIV test. An assessment that the client understands how HIV is transmitted, the implications of testing , and how to interpret the test results is sufficient.
For occasions when clients may not be able to accurately estimate their risk, the guide includes more detailed guidance in Appendix B for conducting rapid risk assessments and a more detailed technical review of HIV transmission risks can be found in Appendix C.
2.1.2 Couples testing
Challenges In Hiv Testing
4.3.1 HIV Testing in the “window period”
The window period is the time after acquisition of HIV infection when the individual is highly infectious but tests negative on HIV antibody screening because antibodies are not immediately produced. As shown in Figure 4, the timelines associated with the window period have changed with the evolution of more sensitive antibody screening tests. While 1st generation tests detected HIV antibody an average of 60 days following exposure the 4th generation combination tests permit detection of acute HIV infection during the viremic phase. This reduces the window period to approximately 15 to 20 days. Making the diagnosis as early as possible can help prevent onward transmission of the virus, since the person is most infectious during this period. Some jurisdictions provide NAAT testing for high-risk clients , in an effort to identify very early HIV infection.
4.3.2 Indeterminate results during the window period
4.3.3 Confirmatory Testing
The Western Blot assay is not as sensitive as the 3rd and 4th generation screening tests and may yield indeterminate results during the window period. New algorithms employing NAAT as a confirmatory test are currently being evaluated.
Figure 5: Antigen/Antibody detection periods
Figure 5 is a detailed diagram showing the days elapsed, from zero to 360, since the start of HIV infection. The diagram is divided into a sliding scale of four time periods:
4.3.4 Genetic diversity of HIV
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Can You Have Hiv For 20 Years And Not Know
While its common for people with HIV to experience symptoms similar to the flu after a few weeks of the initial infection, some people may experience no symptoms at all during the early stages of HIV.
If a person with HIV goes undiagnosed and the virus develops into stage 2, HIV will continue to develop and may last for 10-15 years without the appropriate HIV testing and treatment . Its important to note that this stage can also bring with it little to no symptoms and people may not even feel sick.
The only way to know your HIV status is to get tested. This can be done by visiting your local HIV testing centre, your local doctor, or from home with an at-home lab test. Early detection is crucial to getting prompt treatment and going on to lead both a happy and healthy life.
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Hiv Has A Powerful Opponent
Before 1996, contracting the HIV was basically a death sentence. But then, over the course of the next two decades, a regimen of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy evolved and came into use. This drug regimen helps prevent the virus from replicating and can help keep the infection from causing AIDS, transforming a fatal disease into a manageable one. These drugs have been an amazing scientific advancement, Dr. Santiago says. Most of the people who die nowadays are those who are unaware they have until symptoms become severe. Even people who think they may have been exposed to HIV have options if they act very quickly. The CDC advises you to alert your healthcare provider and start a regimen of ART medicines called post-exposure prophylaxis within 72 hours.
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