Aids Diagnosis Is More Complicated
AIDS is late stage HIV infection. Healthcare providers look for a few factors to determine if HIV latency has progressed to stage 3 HIV.
Because HIV destroys immune cells called CD4 cells, one way healthcare providers diagnose AIDS is to do a count of those cells. A person without HIV can have anywhere from 500 to 1,200 CD4 cells. When the cells have dropped to 200, a person with HIV is considered to have stage 3 HIV.
Another factor signaling that stage 3 HIV has developed is the presence of opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections are diseases caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that would not make a person with an undamaged immune system sick.
You May Like: Hiv Stays Alive In Dried Blood
How Can You Stop Hiv Being Passed On
If you have sex:
take PrEP before you might be exposed to HIV
take PEP after you might have been exposed to HIV
get medically circumcised if you have a penis to reduce your risk.
If you inject drugs:
always use a clean needle and syringe
never share injecting equipment.
If youâre pregnant and have HIV:
take treatment during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This will stop HIV passing to your baby.
What Happens If Im Hiv Positive
You might not know if you get infected by HIV. Some people get fever, headache, sore muscles and joints, stomach ache, swollen lymph glands, or a skin rash for one or two weeks. Most people think its the flu. Some people have no symptoms. Fact Sheet 103 has more information on the early stage of HIV infection.
The virus will multiply in your body for a few weeks or even months before your immune system responds. During this time, you wont test positive for HIV, but you can infect other people.
When your immune system responds, it starts to make antibodies. When this happens, you will test positive for HIV.
After the first flu-like symptoms, some people with HIV stay healthy for ten years or longer. But during this time, HIV is damaging your immune system.
One way to measure the damage to your immune system is to count your CD4 cells you have. These cells, also called T-helper cells, are an important part of the immune system. Healthy people have between 500 and 1,500 CD4 cells in a milliliter of blood. Fact Sheet 124 has has more information on CD4 cells.
Without treatment, your CD4 cell count will most likely go down. You might start having signs of HIV disease like fevers, night sweats, diarrhea, or swollen lymph nodes. If you have HIV disease, these problems will last more than a few days, and probably continue for several weeks.
Recommended Reading: What Diseases Are Associated With Hiv Infection
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.
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.
You May Like: Is Pep Effective In Preventing Hiv
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.
Treatment’s Impact On Life Expectancy
In the past, an AIDS diagnosis was considered by many to be a death sentence. With the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy in 1996, that outlook changed. This form of combination therapy can fully suppress the virus and slow disease progression.
During the height of the epidemic in the United States, HIV was the eighth leading cause of death overall. By the mid-1990s, it accounted for 23% of deaths among men ages 25 to 44 and 11% of deaths among women of the same age group.
By 1995, the HIV mortality rate had peaked to its highest level ever, killing nearly 50,000 U.S. citizens and residents. With the introduction of HAART, now referred to simply as antiretroviral therapy, the death rate plummeted by more than 50% in three years.
Even people clinically diagnosed with AIDS can benefit from antiretroviral treatment. With that said, the lower your CD4 count is at the start of therapy, the less likely you will be to achieve immune recovery.
Also Check: Why Is Hiv Medicine So Expensive
What Behaviors Are The Most Risky For Getting Or Transmitting Hiv
Since there is a fairly high number of people who have HIV and dont know it, you should be tested for HIV so you know your status. Being intoxicated is risky because you are more likely to engage in risky sex if you are drunk or high. In terms of sex acts, anal sex and vaginal intercourse are the most risky behaviors.
What Are Researchers Doing To Find A Cure For Hiv
The search for a cure for HIV began as soon as researchers identified the virus. HIV is probably one of the most studied viruses in history. Scientists have a detailed knowledge of the virus’ genes, and proteins, and understand how it functions. In fact, researchers chose the combinations of drugs that make up ART therapy because they attack different parts of the virus life cycle, causing it to malfunction. However, ART is not a cure and HIV patients must take the drugs for life. Even when viral levels are low, the virus is still present in the body.
One of the problems with finding a cure is that the virus can persist in cells throughout the body and potentially hide in areas that are difficult for drugs to reach, like the brain. New research is helping us understand how to treat viruses effectively in these secluded areas of the body. In addition, researchers are studying those infected cells that persist in the body to determine how they can be stimulated to produce viruses and/or be targeted for clearance from the body by novel therapies.
Recommended Reading: Are Rapid Hiv Tests Accurate
How Is Aids Diagnosed
Symptoms such as fever, weakness, and weight loss may be a sign that a persons HIV has advanced to AIDS. However, a diagnosis of AIDS is based on the following criteria:
- A drop in CD4 count to less than 200 cells/mm3. A CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood.
- The presence of certain opportunistic infections.
Although an AIDS diagnosis indicates severe damage to the immune system, HIV medicines can still help people at this stage of HIV infection.
What Are The Stages Of Hiv
HIV has three stages:
Stage 1: Acute HIV
Some people get flu-like symptoms a month or two after theyve been infected with HIV. These symptoms often go away within a week to a month.
Stage 2: Chronic stage/clinical latency
After the acute stage, you can have HIV for many years without feeling sick. It’s important to know that you can still spread HIV to others even if you feel well.
Stage 3: AIDS
AIDS is the most serious stage of HIV infection. In this stage, HIV has severely weakened your immune system and opportunistic infections are much more likely to make you sick.
Opportunistic infections are ones that someone with a healthy immune system could typically fight off. When HIV has advanced to AIDS, these illnesses take advantage of your weakened immune system.
Youre more likely to get certain cancers when you have AIDS. These cancers and opportunistic infections together are called AIDS-defining illnesses.
To be diagnosed with AIDS, you must be infected with HIV and have at least one of the following:
- Fewer than 200 CD4 cells per cubic millimeter of blood .
- An AIDS-defining illness.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does Hiv Blood Test Take
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.
Read Also: Does Cookie Johnson Have Hiv
Hiv Vs Aids: Whats The Difference
It can be easy to confuse HIV and AIDS. They are different diagnoses, but they do go hand-in-hand: HIV is a virus that can lead to a condition called AIDS, also known as stage 3 HIV.
At one time, a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was considered a death sentence. Thanks to research and the development of new treatments, people with HIV at any stage today are living long, productive lives. An HIV-positive person who adheres to regular antiretroviral treatment can expect to live a near-normal life span.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does Hiv Live On Surfaces
How Is Hiv Treated
HIV is treated with a combination of medicines taken by mouth every day. This combination of pills is called antiretroviral therapy .
Taking a combination of types of pills, rather than just one, is the most effective way to keep HIV from multiplying and destroying your cells. There are also combination pills that have several medications in a single pill. Your healthcare provider will carefully select a combination specifically for you.
The goal of ART is to reduce HIV in the blood to an amount thats not detectable by an HIV test and to slow HIVs weakening of your immune system.
Medications used to treat HIV
Each type of pill used in ART has a different way of keeping HIV from making more copies of itself or from infecting your cells. There can be many different brand names of the same type of ART drug.
Types of ART medications include:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors .
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors .
- Protease inhibitors .
- Combination of HIV medicines.
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.
Read Also: Can Hiv And Aids Be Cured
What Is The Treatment For Hiv During Pregnancy
There are two goals of treatment for pregnant women with HIV infection:
- to treat maternal infection and
- to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child.
Compliance with medications is important to provide the best outcome for mother and child. Even though a physician might highly recommend a medication regimen, the pregnant woman has a choice of whether or not to take the medicines. Studies have shown improved compliance when there is good communication between the woman and her doctor, with open discussions about the benefits and side effects of treatment. Compliance also improves with better social support, including friends and relatives.
Patients must continue medications throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Some medicines, such as zidovudine , can be given intravenously during labor, particularly for those women who do not have good viral suppression at the time of delivery. Patients need to continue other medications orally during labor to try to reduce the risk of transmission to the baby during delivery. If the quantity of virus in the mother’s blood is more than 1,000 copies/mL near the time of delivery, doctors will perform a scheduled cesarean delivery at 38 weeks gestation to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus during vaginal delivery. Women with HIV should continue taking ART after delivery for their own health.
Is There A Cure For Aids
There is no cure for AIDS. There are drugs that can slow down the HIV virus, and slow down the damage to your immune system. There is no way to clear the HIV out of your body.
Other drugs can prevent or treat opportunistic infections . In most cases, these drugs work very well. The newer, stronger ARVs have also helped reduce the rates of most OIs. A few OIs, however, are still very difficult to treat. See Fact Sheet 500 for more information on opportunistic infections.
Recommended Reading: Does Hiv Always Turn Into Aids
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.
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.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does Hiv Live On Surfaces
Also Check: What Do You Do If You Have Hiv
How To Know Im At Risk Of Having Hiv
It is recommended to consult a doctor and get tested for persons, their spouses and children if they:
- Have multiple sexual partners.
- Complain of Sexually-Transmitted Infections .
- Use unsterile or shared needles .
- Had a contaminated blood transfusion.
- Were sexually assaulted or raped.
- Were born to mothers with HIV.
What Is The Name Of The New Arv Pill
Early results from people taking a new antiretroviral medication called lenacapavir are promising. The long-acting drug is still at the research stage, but if the developers are able to pair it effectively with other drugs that also only needs to be taken twice a year, it could revolutionise HIV treatment.
Read Also: How Many Stages Does Hiv Have