Flu & People Living With Hiv
People with HIV are at high risk of serious influenza-related complications.
Human immunodeficiency virus is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . HIV attacks cells in the bodys immune system called CD4 cells and, if untreated, gradually destroys the bodys ability to fight infection and certain cancers. CDC estimates that about 1.1 million people in the United States aged 13 years and older were living with HIV at the end of 2016, the most recent year for which this information is available.
People with HIV are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications, especially those who have a very low CD4 cell count or who are not taking medicine to treat HIV . Studies done before routine use of antiretroviral therapy suggested an increased risk for heart- and lung-related hospitalizations in people with HIVexternal icon during flu season as opposed to other times of the year. Other studies have indicated that flu symptoms might be prolonged and the risk of flu-related complications and prolonged flu virus sheddingexternal icon is higher for certain people living with HIV.
This page addresses recommendations related to flu shots for people with HIV and the use of influenza antiviral drugs in people living with HIV.
Early Symptoms In Primary Hiv
The first noticeable stage is primary HIV infection. This stage is also called acute retroviral syndrome , or acute HIV infection. Because HIV infection at this stage usually causes flu-like symptoms, its possible for someone in this stage to think their symptoms are due to a severe flu rather than HIV. Fever is the most common symptom.
Other symptoms include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , primary HIV symptoms may show up two to four weeks after initial exposure. Symptoms can continue for up to several weeks. However, some people may exhibit the symptoms only for a few days.
People with early HIV sometimes dont show any symptoms, yet they can still transmit the virus to others. This is attributed to the fast, unrestrained viral replication that occurs in the early weeks after contracting the virus.
Stage : Clinical Latency
In this stage, the virus still multiplies, but at very low levels. People in this stage may not feel sick or have any symptoms. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection.
Without HIV treatment, people can stay in this stage for 10 or 15 years, but some move through this stage faster.
If you take HIV medicine every day, exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load, you can protect your health and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual partner.
But if your viral load is detectable, you can transmit HIV during this stage, even when you have no symptoms. Its important to see your health care provider regularly to get your viral load checked.
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Is It The Flu Or An Std 11 Signs You Need To Get Tested Immediately
If youre experiencing some bodily discomfort, dont be so quick to chalk it up to the flu. There are a lot of flu-like symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases that disguise themselves as normal body ailments. If youre sexually active, and youre experiencing some unfamiliar symptoms, read this list! These symptoms may seem like a normal allergy, cold, or flu symptoms, but in reality, they could be STD symptoms in disguise. So please, for your sake, if you have any of these STD symptoms, get tested immediately!
What To Look For
Whether caused by an HIV medication or by HIV itself, the rash typically appears as a red, flattened area on the skin thats usually covered with small red bumps.
A main symptom of the rash is itchiness. It can show up on any part of the body, but it most often occurs on the face and chest, and sometimes on the feet and hands. It can also cause mouth ulcers.
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Hiv Test Window Period
The window period is the amount of time between when a person is first infected and when a test is able to accurately diagnose HIV infection: The following numbers are a guide, as the exact numbers may vary between tests and labs.
- Antibody tests: 21 to 84 days after infection
- Fourth generation tests: 13 to 42 days after infection
- Nucleic acid tests: seven to 28 days after infection
The first number for each test is the earliest possible time that an HIV infection can be detected with that test. However, each person responds differently to infection, so, in some cases, HIV may not be detectable until much later . If an early HIV test produces a negative result, it is advisable to have another test after the end of the window period.
Treatment Of Acute Hiv Infection
Acute HIV infection is treated with antiretroviral drugs , which are drugs specially designed to treat retroviruses. People with HIV are prescribed a combination of antiretroviral drugs, which together are known as antiretroviral therapy .
Antiretroviral therapy reduces the amount of virus in the body. It does not cure HIV infection, but, taken correctly, it can slow progression of the condition from one stage to the next. For example, one recent study showed that a person diagnosed at age 20 who has appropriate treatment now has a life expectancy very close to that of a person without HIV.
Antiretroviral therapy should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis. It is very important to take antiretroviral medication correctly. Missing doses or stopping and restarting treatment can lead to drug resistance, which can reduce future treatment options.
Side-effects of ART may lead some people to consider stopping their medication. However, the long-term benefits of ART exceed the difficulties posed by some side-effects. It is very important not to stop taking ART without speaking with a doctor, who may be able to prescribe a more comfortable combination of antiretroviral drugs. More recent developments in ART mean that intolerable side-effects are fewer than in the past.
Side-effects associated with taking antiretroviral drugs include:
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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.
Diagnosis Of Acute Hiv Infection
The only way to confirm an acute HIV infection diagnosis is to be tested for HIV. There are different types of tests, depending on how long it has been since the personâs potential exposure to the HIV virus. Testing will involve either a sample of fluid swabbed from the mouth, or a blood sample.
Antibody tests are the most common tests for HIV, including rapid tests and home tests. Antibody tests screen for HIV-1 antibodies, which are produced by the immune system after exposure to the HIV virus. It takes at least three weeks, and sometimes up to 12 weeks, for a person to develop enough antibodies to be detectable in this type of test.
Combination, or fourth-generation, tests detect both HIV-1 antibodies and p24 antigens. The p24 antigen is part of the HIV virus and can be detected as early as two weeks after infection in some people, although for others it can take up to six weeks. The amount of p24 antigen in the blood is gradually reduced by antibodies, which makes it unsuitable for use in diagnosing HIV after the very early stages.
Nucleic acid tests detect the HIV virus itself in the blood. The test is expensive and usually only used in cases where high-risk exposure has occurred, or the person has symptoms of acute HIV infection. Nucleic acid tests can detect the HIV virus as early as one week after infection in some people, but it may take up to four weeks until detection is possible for others.
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Can Hiv Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent HIV is to not have sex with a person who has HIV, or share a needle with a person who has HIV. However, there is also a medicine called PrEP that people can take before coming into contact with HIV that can prevent them from getting an HIV infection.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is for people who are at long-term risk of getting HIV either through sexual activity or by injecting drugs. If youre taking PrEP and come into contact with HIV, the medicine makes it difficult for HIV to develop inside your body.
Other ways to prevent HIV include:
- When you have sex, practice safer sex by using a condom. The best condom is a male latex condom. A female condom is not as effective but does offer some protection.
- Do not share needles and syringes.
- Never let someone elses blood, semen, urine, vaginal fluid, or feces get into your anus, vagina, or mouth.
Stage : The Asymptomatic Stage
Once a person has been through the acute primary infection stage and seroconversion process, they can often start to feel better. In fact, HIV may not cause any other symptoms for up to 10 or even 15 years .
However, the virus will still be active, infecting new cells and making copies of itself. HIV can still be passed on during this stage. If left untreated, over time, HIV infection will cause severe damage to the immune system.
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Stage : Acute Primary Infection
The early symptoms of HIV can feel like having the flu. Around one to four weeks after getting HIV, you may start to experience these flu-like symptoms. These normally dont last long . You may only get some of the symptoms and some people dont have any symptoms at all.
Symptoms can include:
- joint aches and pains
- muscle pain.
These symptoms happen because your body is reacting to the HIV virus. Cells that are infected with HIV are circulating throughout your blood system. In response, your immune system tries to attack the virus by producing HIV antibodies this process is called seroconversion. Timing varies but once you have HIV it can take your body up to a few months to go through the seroconversion process.
Having these symptoms alone does not mean you definitely have HIV. The only way to know if you have HIV is by taking a test. You should always visit your healthcare professional if youre worried about or think youve been at risk of getting HIV, even if you feel well and dont have any symptoms. They can then arrange for you to get tested.
HIV will not always show up in a test at this early stage, and you may need to test again later to confirm your result . Your healthcare professional will talk to you about the timing of your test and answer any concerns. Its important not delay speaking to a healthcare worker if you are worried about HIV.
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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Battling Idiopathic Hiv Fatigue
When the source of fatigue cant be linked to depression, insomnia, drug reactions, or other causes, its said to be idiopathic HIV fatigue. This means the cause of fatigue is unknown.
Idiopathic HIV fatigue is common, but its hard to predict. A person living with HIV may experience it at any point in the day, or, they may go days without feeling tired. The use of stimulants such as methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine may be helpful for some people. A healthcare provider may prescribe them for everyday use or just when one first begins to notice fatigue.
Individual Symptoms Of Hiv Vary From One Person To Another If You Have An Active Sex Life Or Think You May Have Been Exposed To Hiv It Is Important To Get Tested Here Are Some Common Symptoms Of Hiv Many People Experience Severe Flu
Symptoms of HIV can vary between individuals however the first signs of infection generally appear within the first 1-2 months. Many, but not all, people will experience severe flu-like symptoms which is your bodys natural response to the virus. This is called the seroconversion period.
Its during this time that its crucial to identify if HIV is the cause, as your viral load is very high which greatly increases the risk of passing it on. And the only way to know for sure is by getting tested.
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The Most Common Symptoms Of Seroconversion Are:
- sore throat
- rash over the body.
Seroconversion is a sign that the immune system is reacting to the presence of the virus in the body. Its also the point at which the body produces antibodies to HIV. Once seroconversion has happened, an HIV test will detect antibodies and give a positive result.
Seroconversion illness happens to most people shortly after infection. It can be severe enough to put someone in hospital or so mild that its mistaken for something like flu although a blocked or runny nose is not usually a symptom.
If you do have HIV, your body fluids are highly infectious during the early weeks and months after transmission. However, once youre on effective treatment and your viral load becomes undetectable you cannot pass on HIV.
It can take up to six months from starting treatment to become undetectable.
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.
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Abdomen Lower Back Or Joint Pain
Pain in your abdomen may be a sign of a chlamydial or gonorrheal infection that has progressed. Late-stage chlamydia and gonorrhea can infect the pelvis and cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease . If left untreated, PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, infertility, tubo-ovarian abscess, and/or ectopic pregnancy.
Pain in your lower back may be a sign of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes prodrome. Herpes prodrome is a physical pain that typically means a herpes breakout is about to occur. The pain can be located in your lower back, thighs, butt knees, or feet. Herpes prodrome also indicates a time when youre most susceptible to spreading the virus. But even though you may not be exhibiting herpes lesions, youre still at risk of spreading the virus.
Joint Pain can mean that Hepatitis B, syphilis, or HIV have infiltrated your body and have gone untreated or may be, a symptom of gonorrhea or chlamydia. When gonorrhea or chlamydia begin to cause joint pain, its called Gonococcal Arthritis or Venereal Arthritis. This reactive arthritis occurs when gonorrhea or chlamydia go undetected and the bacteria infects one or multiple joints. If left untreated, this arthritis can lead to chronic joint pain, chronic joint inflammation, permanent joint damage, and/or deformity.