What Are Hiv And Aids
HIV and AIDS are different but connected. HIV is a virus that can get into our bodies and start to make us sick over a period of time. AIDS is a set of symptoms and illnesses that develop at the final stage of HIV infection.
HIV can become AIDS if it is not treated. But treatment means you can stay healthy and live a long life without getting AIDS.
- The basics
How Often Do You Need To Get Tested For Hiv
How often you should get tested depends on your personal practices, risk behaviours, and how often you engage in them.
For most people, it is important to have a full sexual health test at least once each year. This testing includes:
Even if you always use condoms, it is recommended you get tested annually as condoms dont provide 100% protection against HIV and STIs.
Who Is At Risk For Hiv Infection
Anyone can get HIV, but certain groups have a higher risk of getting it:
- People who have another sexually transmitted disease . Having an STD can increase your risk of getting or spreading HIV.
- People who inject drugs with shared needles.
- Gay and bisexual men.
- Black/African Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans. They make up a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people with HIV, compared to other races and ethnicities.
- People who engage in risky sexual behaviors, such as not using condoms.
Factors such as stigma, discrimination, income, education, and geographic region can also affect peoples risk for HIV.
Also Check: How Does Hiv Cause Disease
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.
Hiv Transmission In Australia
In Australia, HIV is commonly transmitted through:
- Unprotected anal or vaginal sex .
- Sharing any needles, syringes, or other injecting equipment.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding This can occur when the mother doesnt know she is HIV-positive, or is not on effective treatment.
- Tattooing or other procedures that involve unsterile or reused equipment.
- Needle stick injuries.
HIV is not transmitted by:
- kissing, hugging, massaging, mutual masturbation and other body contact
- social interaction
- sharing food, dishes, utensils, drinking glasses
- air, breath, or being coughed or sneezed on
- mosquito, insect or animal bites
- use of communal facilities .
It is perfectly safe to consume food and drinks prepared by someone who is HIV-positive even if theyre not receiving treatment.
People with HIV who are on treatment and achieve and maintain an undetectable HIV viral load cannot transmit HIV sexually.
Don’t Miss: What Disease Is Caused By Hiv
Confusion Or Difficulty Concentrating
Cognitive problems could be a sign of HIV-related dementia, which usually occurs late in the course of the infection, when a person has developed AIDS.
In addition to confusion and difficulty concentrating, HIV-related dementia might also involve memory problems and behavioral issues, such as anger or irritability.
It may even include motor changes: becoming clumsy, lack of coordination, and problems with tasks requiring fine motor skills such as writing by hand.
How Can I Take Care Of Myself While Living With Hiv
It’s very important to take your medications as prescribed and to make sure you dont miss appointments. This is called treatment adherence.
If you miss medications, even by accident, HIV can change how it infects your cells , potentially causing your medications to stop working. If your schedule prevents you from taking medications on time or making it to appointments, talk to your healthcare provider.
Does Hiv Go Away
HIV doesnt go away on its own. It inserts itself into your DNA so your cells think that its a part of you. There can be many years without symptoms after initial infection, but HIV can still be damaging your immune system even if you dont feel sick.
There may be periods while on medication where the virus is not detectable by an HIV test. In these cases, HIV can be hiding in your body, undetected. It can wake up and start destroying your cells again in the future.
This is why continuing to take HIV medication, even if you dont feel sick or the virus is undetectable, is extremely important. Without treatment, HIV will weaken your immune system until you cant fight off other serious illnesses.
What Does Hiv Do To A Person
HIV infects white blood cells of your immune system called CD4 cells, or helper T cells. It destroys CD4 cells, causing your white blood cell count to drop. This leaves you with an immune system that cant fight off infections, even those that wouldnt normally make you sick.
HIV initially makes you feel sick with flu-like symptoms. Then it can hide in your body for a long time without causing noticeable symptoms. During that time, it slowly destroys your T-cells. When your T-cells get very low or you begin to get certain illnesses that people with healthy immune systems dont get, HIV has progressed to AIDS.
AIDS can cause rapid weight loss, extreme tiredness, mouth or genital ulcers, fevers, night sweats and skin discolorations. Other illnesses and cancers often happen in people living with AIDS and can cause additional symptoms.
Whats a retrovirus?
A retrovirus is a virus that works backward from the way human cells do. Human cells have instructions that send a message to make building blocks for your body .
Retroviruses have their instructions written on RNA. When a retrovirus invades your cells, it changes its RNA to look like your cells instructions . Then it cuts your cells DNA and inserts its instructions into them. Your cell then acts as though the virus instructions are its own.
Read Also: Where To Get Tested For Stds And Hiv
When Is Hiv Contagious
In the early stage of HIV transmission, the levels of the virus in the blood and semen are high. A person can easily transmit the virus during this time. Additionally, transmission is more likely during this primary acute stage than in the following stage.
During the clinical latency stage, a person with HIV experiences fewer symptoms. However, they can still transmit the virus to others.
According to the CDC, a person with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to another individual. This is because HIV treatment suppresses the virus, leaving a low presence of the virus in the blood.
When HIV is not detectable in a test, it is not transmissible.
Progressing To Stage 3 Hiv
If a person with HIV does not receive treatment, the condition may eventually progress to stage 3 HIV, also known as AIDS. Thanks to modern medical advances, current HIV infections rarely reach stage 3 in the U.S.
Stage 3 HIV is not a specific disease but a syndrome with a wide range of identifiable symptoms. The symptoms can also stem from other illnesses because opportunistic infections take advantage of the bodys reduced immune activity.
Treatment will depend on the individual and their complications. The persons healthcare team will help them make a suitable plan.
You May Like: How To Get Hiv Treatment
People Of All Genders And Sexual Orientations Can Contract Hiv
HIV is a human disease, meaning anyone can contract it, says Rymland.
Unfortunately, due to the virus early nomenclature as GRID, or Gay Related Immune Deficiency, its wrongly assumed to affect only gay men.
Sadly, says Rymland, this pervasive stigma prevents non-gay men, as well as other-gendered individuals, from protecting themselves against HIV transmission or even getting tested for STIs.
People of all sexual orientations need to be educated about their risk and informed on how to protect themselves, she says. And that includes being educated about PrEP, a safe and effective medication for preventing HIV thats not well known outside of the gay community.
How common is HIV in men?
Globally, men make up about 47 percent of cases. However, research published in 2018 found that men in the United States made up
HIV is typically diagnosed with a blood test. Though, it can also be diagnosed with oral fluid or urine.
Most commonly, healthcare professionals will order one of the following tests:
- nucleic acid test : looks for viral load in blood
- antigen/antibody test: looks for both antibodies and antigens in blood
- antibody test: looks for antibodies in the blood
It typically takes a few days for NAT and antigen/antibody tests to provide results. But there are rapid antibody screening tests and rapid antigen/antibody tests that take 30 minutes or less.
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.
Also Check: When Did Hiv First Infect Humans
Is There Any Treatment Of A Cure For Hiv/aids
Currently, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. People living with HIV will need lifelong treatment. The best treatments right now are combinations of prescription drugs. These medications include antiviral treatment, protease inhibitors and other drugs that help people who are living with HIV stay healthy. People living with HIV also can stay healthy by doing things like eating properly, exercising and getting enough sleep.
Whats The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
The difference between HIV and AIDS is that HIV is a virus that weakens your immune system. AIDS is a condition that can happen as a result of an HIV infection when your immune system is severely weakened.
You cant get AIDS if you arent infected with HIV. Thanks to treatment that slows down the effects of the virus, not everyone with HIV progresses to AIDS. But without treatment, almost all people living with HIV will advance to AIDS.
You May Like: How Soon Should You Get Tested For Hiv
What Is The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
The term AIDS refers to the most advanced stages of HIV infection. Most of the conditions affecting people with AIDS are opportunistic infections that generally do not affect healthy people. In people with AIDS, these infections are often severe and sometimes fatal because the immune system is so ravaged by HIV that the body cannot fight off the infection. Symptoms of opportunistic infections common in people with AIDS include:
- coughing and shortness of breath
- seizures and lack of coordination
- difficult or painful swallowing
- severe headaches
People with AIDS also are particularly prone to developing various cancers. These cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS.
How Hiv Affects The Body
HIV attacks the immune system. It specifically attacks the CD4 cells, a subtype of a T cell group. T cells help the body fight off infections.
Without treatment, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells in the body, increasing a persons risk of getting infections. If HIV develops to stage 3, they will also have a higher chance of developing cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information on where individuals can find their nearest HIV testing center.
You May Like: What Comes First Hiv Or Aids
What Are The Treatments For Hiv/aids
There is no cure for HIV infection, but it can be treated with medicines. This is called antiretroviral therapy . ART can make HIV infection a manageable chronic condition. It also reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
Most people with HIV live long and healthy lives if they get and stay on ART. It’s also important to take care of yourself. Making sure that you have the support you need, living a healthy lifestyle, and getting regular medical care can help you enjoy a better quality of life.
How To Prevent Hiv From Advancing To Aids
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV. The best way to avoid AIDS is to start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. Taken every day as prescribed, these drugs will keep you healthy and make your viral level so low, it canât be detected. Sticking to the right treatment can keep AIDS at bay for years and decades. It also practically eliminates the chances that youâll pass HIV to your sexual partners and others. Many HIV-positive people live normal life spans.
Office on Womenâs Health: âHow is AIDS different from HIV?â and âOpportunistic Infections and Other Conditions.â
CDC: âHIV/AIDS: Statistics Overview â âAct Against AIDS: Basic Statistics â and âHIV in the United States: At a Glance.â
Medline Plus Medical Dictionary: âImmunodeficiency.â
AIDS.gov: âHIV Lifecycle.â
New York University Institute of Human Development and Social Change Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies: âHIV/AIDS Info.â
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: âHIV/AIDS.â
Department of Health & Human Services AIDSinfo: âHIV Overviewâ and âHIV Treatment.â
The Foundation for AIDS Research: âThirty Years of HIV/AIDS: Snapshots of an Epidemic.â
World Health Organization: “HIV/AIDS.”
You May Like: How To Take Care Of Hiv Patient At Home
Hiv Is Detected With A Blood Test
Blood tests are the most common and reliable tests for HIV. The virus is detected by taking a sample of your blood either with a conventional blood test or a rapid test .There is a short period of time between exposure to HIV and the ability for tests to detect HIV or its antibodies. This is often referred to as the ‘window period’ between 2 and 12 weeks.
Most tests used in Australia can detect HIV as early as 2 to 4 weeks after infection.
If your blood test shows that HIV or its antibodies are present, you are HIV-positive.
If you have no antibodies in your blood you are HIV-negative. Sometimes negative results might also mean you are in the window period, so you might need a follow-up blood test to make sure.
Can Medications Prevent Hiv
There are medications that can help prevent HIV in people who have been exposed or are at high risk for exposure. These include pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis .
PrEP is a pill you take every day if you dont have HIV but are at high risk of getting infected.
Specifically, its recommended that you take PrEP if you dont have HIV, if you have had anal or vaginal sex in the past six months and at least one of the following is true:
- You have a sexual partner with HIV.
- You havent consistently used a condom.
- In the past six months, youve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease .
PrEP is also recommended if you dont have HIV, you inject drugs and at least one of the following is true:
- You inject drugs with a partner who has HIV.
- You share needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
PrEP is not a replacement for other preventative measures. You should still use condoms and avoid sharing needles to inject drugs while taking PrEP.
PEP uses HIV medicines to try to prevent an HIV infection soon after you are exposed. PEP is for those who dont have HIV or dont know if they have HIV and think theyve been exposed through consensual sex, sexual assault, shared needles , or work.
You must start PEP within 72 hours of exposure and take it every day for 28 days. PEP is only for emergency use and does not replace other precautions, like condom use.
Also Check: Can You Have Sex With Hiv
How Do I Take Care Of Myself With Hiv
The best way to take care of yourself while living with HIV is to follow your treatment plan.
- Make sure to take your medications as prescribed and on time.
- Show up to all appointments so your healthcare team can monitor how youre feeling and know if theres a need to adjust your treatment.
- Follow your healthcare providers recommendations on how to avoid additional illnesses.
How Much Do Hiv Tests Cost
Unlike rapid tests, blood tests for HIV are covered by Medicare, which means your doctor can order the test free of charge for you.
If you are not eligible for Medicare, you may also be able to claim some of the testing costs through private health insurance. Check with your provider to see if youre eligible.
Don’t Miss: Which Hiv Meds Cause Diabetes
Whats The Outlook For Men Who Have Hiv
Theres no cure for HIV. However, getting a prompt diagnosis and early treatment can slow the progression of the disease and significantly improve quality of life.
HIV is absolutely no longer the death sentence it used to be, says Rymland. I have taken care of patients that were diagnosed in the 80s who have been on treatment and have never been sick. They live full lives. Todays treatment for HIV is easy and effective and, if taken properly, a person can live a long and healthy life and not pass it on to partners.
Indeed, research shows that people with HIV who start treatment before their immune systems are severely damaged might have a nearly normal life expectancy.