Interval Of Mild Or No Symptoms
After the first symptoms disappear, most people, even without treatment, have no symptoms or only occasionally have a few mild symptoms. This interval of few or no symptoms may last from 2 to 15 years. The symptoms that most commonly occur during this interval include the following:
Swollen lymph nodes, felt as small, painless lumps in the neck, under the arms, or in the groin
White patches in the mouth due to candidiasis
Some people progressively lose weight and have a mild fever or diarrhea.
These symptoms may result from HIV infection or from opportunistic infections that develop because HIV has weakened the immune system.
Who Does Hiv Affect
Its a myth that HIV only infects certain people. Anyone can get HIV if theyre exposed to the virus. Having sex without a condom or sharing needles to inject drugs are the most common ways that HIV spreads.
Some populations are statistically more affected by HIV than others. Groups disproportionately affected by HIV include:
- People who identify as gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men .
- Certain races such as people who are Black or Hispanic.
- Those who exchange sex for money or other items are also at high risk for HIV infection.
While these arent the only populations impacted by HIV, its important to consider that they face unique barriers to accessing preventative care, getting tested, and receiving comprehensive treatment. Homophobia, racism, poverty, and social stigmas around HIV continue to drive inequities and keep people from accessing high-quality healthcare.
What Are Opportunistic Infections
Opportunistic infections are infections that occur more frequently and are more severe in people with weakened immune systems, including people with HIV.
Many OIs are considered AIDS-defining conditions. That means if a person with HIV has one of these conditions, they are diagnosed with AIDS, the most serious stage of HIV infection.
Don’t Miss: Can Hiv Be Spread By Saliva
Causes Of Hiv Infection
It’s a fragile virus and does not survive outside the body for long.
HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, urine or saliva.
Other ways of getting HIV include:
- sharing needles, syringes or other injecting equipment
- transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
The chance of getting HIV through oral sex is very low and will be dependent on many things, such as whether you receive or give oral sex and the oral hygiene of the person giving the oral sex.
Preventive Treatment Before Exposure
Taking an antiretroviral drug before being exposed to HIV can reduce the risk of HIV infection. Such preventive treatment is called preexposure prophylaxis . However, PrEP is expensive and is effective only if people take the drug every day. Thus, PrEP is recommended only for people who have a very high risk of becoming infected, such as people who have a partner who is infected with HIV.
PrEP may also be recommended for people who engage in high-risk sexual activities, such as the following:
Heterosexual men and women who do not regularly use condoms during sex with partners whose HIV status is unknown and who are at increased risk of HIV infection
People who use PrEP still need to use other methods to prevent HIV infection, including consistent use of condoms and not sharing needles to inject drugs.
Don’t Miss: How Likely Is Hiv Transmission
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.
- 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.
Can Hiv/aids Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of spreading HIV by:
- Getting tested for HIV.
- Choosing less risky sexual behaviors. This includes limiting the number of sexual partners you have and using latex condoms every time you have sex. If your or your partner is allergic to latex, you can use polyurethane condoms.
- Getting tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases .
- Not injecting drugs.
- Talking to your health care provider about medicines to prevent HIV:
- PrEP is for people who don’t already have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it. PrEP is daily medicine that can reduce this risk.
- PEP is for people who have possibly been exposed to HIV. It is only for emergency situations. PEP must be started within 72 hours after a possible exposure to HIV.
NIH: National Institutes of Health
Don’t Miss: How Long Does Hiv Treatment Last
Why Do Some People With Hiv Infection Develop Aids
Over time, untreated HIV infection damages the immune system and makes it more difficult to fight infections and cancers.
Before there were effective treatments for HIV infection, all infected people went on to develop AIDS within about 10 years. Today, people with HIV who take effective treatment are unlikely to develop AIDS and will have a near-normal life expectancy. This is because these medicines keep the amount of virus in their blood under control and protect the immune system.
How Is Hiv Diagnosed
HIV is diagnosed with either a test of your blood or your spit . You can take a test at home, in a healthcare providers office or at a location that provides testing in your community.
If your test comes back negative, no further testing is required if:
- You havent had a possible exposure in the previous three months before testing with any kind of test.
- You havent had a possible exposure within the window period for a test done with a blood draw.
If you have had a possible exposure within three months of testing, you should consider retesting to confirm the negative result.
If your test comes back positive, the lab may do follow-up tests to confirm the result.
You May Like: How Long Can You Live With Hiv Aids
What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv/aids
The first signs of HIV infection may be flu-like symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes
These symptoms may come and go within two to four weeks. This stage is called acute HIV infection.
If the infection is not treated, it becomes chronic HIV infection. Often, there are no symptoms during this stage. If it is not treated, eventually the virus will weaken your body’s immune system. Then the infection will progress to AIDS. This is the late stage of HIV infection. With AIDS, your immune system is badly damaged. You can get more and more severe infections. These are known as opportunistic infections .
Some people may not feel sick during the earlier stages of HIV infection. So the only way to know for sure whether you have HIV is to get tested.
Through Blood Transfusions Or Organ Transplants
Currently, HIV infection is rarely transmitted through blood transfusions or organ transplants.
Since 1985 in most developed countries, all blood collected for transfusion is tested for HIV, and when possible, some blood products are treated with heat to eliminate the risk of HIV infection. The current risk of HIV infection from a single blood transfusion is estimated to be less than 1 in about 2 million in the United States. However, in many developing countries, blood and blood products are not screened for HIV or are not screened as stringently. There, the risk remains substantial.
HIV has been transmitted when organs from infected donors were unknowingly used as transplants. HIV transmission is unlikely to occur when corneas or certain specially treated tissues are transplanted.
Read Also: How Long Can Hiv Live Outside The Body
Using Safe Injection Practices
Intravenous drug use is a key means of HIV transmission. Sharing needles and other drug equipment can expose a person to HIV and other viruses, such as hepatitis C.
Anyone who injects any drug should do so with a clean, unused needle.
Needle exchange and addiction recovery programs can help reduce the prevalence of HIV.Learn more about needle exchange programs and HIV here.
Treatment Options For Hiv
Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a diagnosis of HIV, regardless of viral load.
The main treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy, a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing. This helps protect CD4 cells, keeping the immune system strong enough to take measures against disease.
Antiretroviral therapy helps keep HIV from progressing to AIDS. It also helps reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
When treatment is effective, the viral load will be undetectable. The person still has HIV, but the virus is not visible in test results.
However, the virus is still in the body. And if that person stops taking antiretroviral therapy, the viral load will increase again, and the HIV can again start attacking CD4 cells.
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.
Simplified Life Cycle Of The Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Like all viruses, human immunodeficiency virus reproduces using the genetic machinery of the cell it infects, usually a CD4+ lymphocyte.
Drugs used to treat HIV infection were developed based on the life cycle of HIV. These drugs inhibit the three enzymes that the virus uses to replicate or to attach to and enter cells.
HIV also infects other cells, such as cells in the skin, brain, genital tract, heart, and kidneys, causing disease in those organs.
You May Like: How Many People In The World Are Hiv Positive
Having A Medication Routine
Taking HIV medication as prescribed is essential missing even a few doses might jeopardize the treatment.
A person should design a daily medication-taking routine that fits their treatment plan and schedule.
Sometimes, side effects keep people from sticking with their treatment plans. If any side effect is hard to manage, contact a healthcare professional. They can recommend a more easily tolerated drug and suggest other changes to the treatment plan.
Whats The Hiv Window Period
As soon as someone contracts HIV, it starts to reproduce in their body. The persons immune system reacts to the antigens by producing antibodies .
The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within 23 to 90 days after transmission.
If a person takes an HIV test during the window period, its likely theyll receive a negative result. However, they can still transmit the virus to others during this time.
If someone thinks they may have been exposed to HIV but tested negative during this time, they should repeat the test in a few months to confirm . And during that time, they need to use condoms or other barrier methods to prevent possibly spreading HIV.
Someone who tests negative during the window might benefit from post-exposure prophylaxis . This is medication taken after an exposure to prevent getting HIV.
PEP needs to be taken as soon as possible after the exposure it should be taken no later than 72 hours after exposure but ideally before then.
Another way to prevent getting HIV is pre-exposure prophylaxis . A combination of HIV drugs taken before potential exposure to HIV, PrEP can lower the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV when taken consistently.
Timing is important when testing for HIV.
Read Also: Can You Get Hiv From Breathing
Information For Family And Friends Of People With Hiv Or Aids
Supporting and caring for family members and friends who have HIV or AIDS can strain relationships and add tension to everyday interactions. Often, disclosing an HIV diagnosis reveals aspects of peoples lives that they may want to keep private. The resulting feelings of guilt and blame can damage family ties and friendships.
Many resources assist family and friends of people who have HIV or AIDS in understanding the effects of the disease and how best to help them.
- TeensHealth explains how a young person can learn about HIV and AIDS and support infected people, including keeping the persons condition private, encouraging activities that can relieve stress, and helping the person maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- The Foundation for AIDS Research provides an extensive FAQ webpage that addresses when someone is at risk of becoming infected, the HIV testing process, and where to find more information.
Preventing Transmission By Blood Transfusions And Organ Transplants
In the United States, the following have almost eliminated transmission of HIV infection by organ transplantation or blood transfusion:
Screening donors of organs or blood for risk factors for HIV infection
Screening donated blood for HIV
Risk is reduced further by asking people with risk factors for HIV infection, regardless of their test results for HIV, not to donate blood or organs for transplantation.
However, developing countries have not consistently used sensitive HIV screening tests and have not restricted donors. Consequently, transmission by these routes is still a problem in these countries.
Read Also: Is Hiv Easily Transmitted Sexually
Hiv Doesnt Always Progress To Stage 3
HIV is a virus, and AIDS is the condition the virus may cause. An HIV infection doesnt necessarily progress to stage 3. In fact, many people with HIV live for years without developing AIDS. Thanks to advances in treatment, a person living with HIV can expect to live a near-normal life span.
While a person can have an HIV infection without having AIDS, anyone diagnosed with AIDS has already contracted HIV. Because there is no cure, the HIV infection never goes away, even if AIDS never develops.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv And Aids
Individuals infected with HIV may have a range of symptoms or none at all. The three stages of an HIV infection are:
- Acute HIV infection causes flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks of the initial infection. The symptoms occur in about two-thirds of infected people.
- Clinical latency can last as long as 10 to 15 years and may cause no symptoms at all. This stage is also called chronic HIV infection because the virus continues to multiply in the body. When a persons viral load is detectable in the bloodstream, the person can transmit HIV to others.
- AIDS this late-stage of HIV infection occurs when the virus has weakened the bodys immune system to the point where opportunistic infections occur.
The following are some symptoms of AIDS:
- Rapid weight loss
- Prolonged swelling of lymph glands in the neck, armpit, and groin
- Diarrhea that lasts a week or longer
- Blotches on and under the skin that appear red, pink, purple, or brown
- Neurological disorders, including memory loss and depression
Recommended Reading: How Does Hiv Affect The Body Physically
How Can You Prevent Getting Opportunistic Infections
If you have HIV, the best thing you can do to stay healthy and prevent OIs is to take HIV medicine exactly as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral loada level of HIV in your blood so low that a standard lab test cant detect it.
It is also important to stay in HIV medical care and get lab tests done. This will allow you and your health care provider to know when you might be at risk for OIs and discuss ways to prevent them.
Some of the ways people with HIV can reduce their risk of getting an OI include:
- avoiding exposure to contaminated water and food
- taking medicines to prevent certain OIs
- getting vaccinated against some preventable infections
- traveling safely
What Is A Retrovirus
rather than as DNA DNA Genes are segments of deoxyribonucleic acid that contain the code for a specific protein that functions in one or more types of cells in the body. Chromosomes are structures within cells… read more .
When HIV enters a human cell, it releases its RNA, and an enzyme called reverse transcriptase makes a DNA copy of the HIV RNA. The resulting HIV DNA is integrated into the infected cells DNA. This process is the reverse of that used by human cells, which make an RNA copy of DNA. Thus, HIV is called a retrovirus, referring to the reversed process.
Other RNA viruses , unlike retroviruses, do not make DNA copies after they invade cells. They simply make RNA copies of their original RNA.
Each time an HIV-infected cell divides, it makes a new copy of the integrated HIV DNA as well as its own genes. The HIV DNA copy is either
HIV-1 originated in Central Africa during the first half of the 20th century when a closely related chimpanzee virus first infected people. The global spread of HIV-1 began in the late 1970s, and AIDS was first recognized in 1981.
Recommended Reading: How Would You Know If You Got Hiv