Ways Hiv Cannot Be Spread
HIV is not spread by:
- Air or water
- Mosquitoes, ticks or other insects
- Saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of a person with HIV
- Shaking hands hugging sharing toilets sharing dishes, silverware, or drinking glasses or engaging in closed-mouth or social kissing with a person with HIV
- Drinking fountains
Does Hiv Viral Load Affect Getting Or Transmitting Hiv
Yes. Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of someone who has HIV. Taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed can make the viral load very lowso low that a test cant detect it .
People with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
HIV medicine is a powerful tool for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. But it works only as long as the HIV-positive partner gets and keeps an undetectable viral load. Not everyone taking HIV medicine has an undetectable viral load. To stay undetectable, people with HIV must take HIV medicine every day as prescribed and visit their healthcare provider regularly to get a viral load test. Learn more.
The Phases Of Untreated Hiv Infection
When HIV infection is not treated with antiretroviral drugs, the course of disease generally moves through several phases. In primary infection , HIV establishes itself throughout the body. Within a few weeks or months, the immune system develops antibodies against the virus — a process known as seroconversion. The infection then enters a chronic phase. During this phase, a person may have no symptoms at all, only mild symptoms or severe symptoms. If left untreated, HIV infection eventually progresses until the immune system is too weak to defend against life-threatening infections and cancers. This stage is called AIDS.
However, the course of HIV infection is not a one-way street. In addition to preventing life-threatening illnesses from developing, anti-HIV drugs can halt the progress of disease and allow the immune system to rebuild itself, even in people who have very serious disease.
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Stages Of The Hiv Lifecycle
Binding and fusion
HIV attaches to a T-helper cell. It then fuses to it and releases its genetic information into the cell.
The types of drugs that stop this stage of the lifecycle are called fusion or entry inhibitor drugs because they stop HIV from entering the cell.
Reverse transcription and integration
Once inside the T-helper cell, HIV converts its genetic material into HIV DNA, a process called reverse transcription. The new HIV DNA then enters the nucleus of the host cell and takes control of it.
The types of drugs that stop this stage of the lifecycle are called NRTIs , NNRTIs and integrase inhibitor drugs.
Transcription and translation
The infected T-helper cell then produces HIV proteins that are used to produce more HIV particles inside the cell.
Assembly, budding and maturation
The new HIV is put together and then released from the T-helper cell into the bloodstream to infect other cells and so the process begins again.
The type of drugs that stop this stage of the lifecycle are called protease inhibitor drugs.
Hiv And Mental Health
Receiving a diagnosis of HIV and living with the condition can have significant effects on a persons mental health.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people living with HIV are twice as likely to have depression than those without HIV. They are also at a higher risk for mood, anxiety, and cognitive disorders.
There are specific sources of stress relating to the condition, such as having to find and manage medical support, managing the lifelong use of medications, and dealing with the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.
Some antiretroviral drugs may also cause mental health side effects, such as anxiety.
Many mental health problems are treatable. Talking therapies, medications, and social support can all help.
The CDC provide a list of services that can help people manage the stigma and discrimination linked with HIV and receive additional support.
For more information about where to find support when living with HIV, people can visit the HIV.gov website.
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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:
- Having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV. Anal sex is riskier than vaginal sex.
- Sharing injection drug equipment , such as needles, with someone who has HIV.
Less common ways are:
- From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. However, the use of HIV medicines and other strategies have helped lower the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to 1% or less in the United States.
- Getting stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers. The risk is very low.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases by:
- Having oral sex. But in general, the chance that an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner is extremely low.
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Antiretroviral Treatment And The Hiv Lifecycle
Antiretroviral treatment for HIV combines several different types of drugs, each of which targets a different stage in the HIV lifecycle. This means that the replication of HIV is stopped on multiple fronts, making it very effective.
If taken correctly, it keeps the immune system healthy, prevents the symptoms and illnesses associated with AIDS from developing, and means that people can enjoy long and healthy lives.
If someone doesnt take their treatment correctly or consistently , the level of HIV in their blood may increase and the drugs may no longer work. This is known as developing drug resistance.
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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.
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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What Research Is Being Done
Within the Federal government, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , a component of the National Institutes of Health , supports research on the neurological consequences of HIV and AIDS. NINDS works closely with its sister agencies, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of Mental Health , to fund research related to HIV and AIDS. The Office of AIDS Research coordinates AIDS research across NIH.
NINDS conducts research into how the weakened immune systems of individuals with AIDS lead to neurological illnesses. NINDS investigators are studying the JC virus, which can reproduce in the brains of people with impaired immune systems and cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy . In one small NINDS study, the anti-cancer drug pembrolizumab showed promise in slowing or stopping the progression of PML. Additional research is needed to confirm results, which could lead to new investigations that help revolutionize treatment for similar chronic infections in immune compromised individuals.
Many individuals whose infection is successfully suppressed with cART experience a reactivation of the virus upon stopping treatment. Researchers are studying how a reservoir of inactive HIV is maintained in the brain. This research is a first step toward developing a means to render the virus permanently dormant or even to rid the brain of all traces of the virus.
Hiv Effects On The Skin
Many people get a skin rash in the first stage of an HIV infection. It usually goes away without treatment in days or weeks. Over time, a number of things might cause more rashes. Itâs always important to let your doctor know about a rash, because it might be a sign of a serious problem, or an HIV medication could be causing it.
People who have HIV are more likely to get viral infections. Herpes zoster, herpes simplex, and Molluscum contagiosum can cause rashes or blisters.
Kaposiâs sarcoma causes lesions, patches, or nodules that are a different color from your skin. Sometimes, you can also get lesions on your internal organs. These may be life-threatening.
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The Science Of Hiv And Aids
- HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a pathogen that works by attacking the human immune system.
- HIV specifically targets CD4 cells, the bodys principal defenders against infection, using them to make copies of themselves.
- Antiretroviral drugs target specific stages of the HIV lifecycle to stop HIV from replicating.
Explore this page to find out more about , , and .
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a pathogen that works by attacking the human immune system. It belongs to a class of viruses called retroviruses and more specifically, a subgroup called lentiviruses, or viruses that cause disease slowly. 1
HIV cannot replicate on its own, so in order to make new copies of itself, it must infect cells of the human immune system, called CD4 cells. CD4 cells are white blood cells that play a central role in responding to infections in the body. 2
Over time, CD4 cells are killed by HIV and the bodys ability to recognise and fight some types of infection begins to decline. If HIV is not controlled by treatment, the loss of CD4 cells leads to the development of serious illnesses, or opportunistic infections. In people with normal CD4 cell levels, these infections would be recognised and cleared by the immune system. 3
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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.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Is there any sure way to avoid acquiring HIV?
- What is the best treatment for me?
- How can I avoid getting any infections that will make me very sick?
- How can I find support groups in my community?
- What diagnostic tests will you run?
- How often will I need to see my doctor?
- Will there be any side effects to my treatment?
- How does this affect my plans for having a family?
- Is it safe for me to breastfeed my baby?
- Will using a condom keep my sex partners from acquiring HIV?
- Should I follow a special diet?
Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthDepartment of Health and Human ServicesBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
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Hiv Prevention And Treatment
If a person is HIV positive, there are treatment options to keep them healthy and prevent them from transmitting it. Thankfully, with proper treatment for HIV, people can live long, healthy lives by keeping their viral load under control in Stage 2.
HIV treatment drugs suppress a persons viral load or the number of HIV cells in the body. Doctors will monitor the cell count and when it falls an undetectable range, they are considered to be non-transmittable.
Scientific research has proven that a person cannot transmit HIV to another partner if their viral load is undetectable. This is commonly which stands for undetectable = untransmittable.
Of course, the best way to stop HIV transmission is to understand how to protect yourself and others from exposure. Using condoms and avoiding sharing needles is effective but taking PrEP can provide the greatest protection even if you are accidentally exposed.
PrEP is a medication prescribed by a doctor which can lower the risk of HIV transmission significantly. This drug stops HIV from being able to reproduce in the body. So, it can be taken before exposure and stop HIV transmission.
If a person has knowingly been exposed to HIV and is not currently on PrEP or has missed numerous doses, then they will be prescribed PEP. This is a medication regimen of HIV prevention drugs that must be administered with 72 hours of exposure. This can stop HIV from reproducing and diminish a persons viral load.
The Effects Of Hiv On The Body
Most people are likely familiar with HIV, but they may not know how it can affect the body.
HIV destroys CD4 cells , which are critical to the immune system. CD4 cells are responsible for keeping people healthy and protecting them from common diseases and infections.
As HIV gradually weakens the bodys natural defenses, signs and symptoms will occur.
Find out what happens when the virus enters the body and interrupts its systems.
Once HIV enters the body, it launches a direct attack on the immune system.
How quickly the virus progresses will vary by:
- a persons age
- how quickly theyre diagnosed
The timing of their treatment can make a huge difference as well.
HIV targets the types of cells that would normally fight off an invader such as HIV. As the virus replicates, it damages or destroys the infected CD4 cell and produces more virus to infect more CD4 cells.
Without treatment, this cycle can continue until the immune system is badly compromised, leaving a person at risk for serious illnesses and infections.
However, not everyone with HIV will go on to develop AIDS. The earlier a person receives treatment, the better their outcome will be.
Early on, HIV symptoms may be mild enough to be dismissed.
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People Living With Hiv/aids Have Increased Nutrient Needs
When infected with the HIV virus the body’s defence system – the immune system – works harder to fight infection. This increases energy and nutrient requirements. Further infection and fever also increase the body’s demand for food. Once people are infected with HIV they have to eat more to meet these extra energy and nutrient needs. Such needs will increase even further as the HIV/AIDS symptoms develop.
Neurological Complications Of 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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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