A Timeline Of Hiv Symptoms
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that compromises the immune system. Theres currently no cure for it, but there are treatments available to reduce its effects on peoples lives.
In the majority of cases, once HIV infection takes hold, the virus stays in the body for life. However, unlike what may occur with infections by other types of viruses, HIV symptoms dont suddenly appear and peak overnight.
If left untreated, the disease progresses over time through three stages, each with its own set of possible symptoms and complications some severe.
Regular antiretroviral treatment can reduce HIV to undetectable levels in the blood. At undetectable levels, the virus wont progress to the later stages of HIV infection. In addition, the virus cant be transmitted to a partner during sex.
Definition Of Exclusion Criteria
Blood donor eligibility is regulated by the Guidelines on the Collection of Blood and Blood Components and on Use of Blood Products . Criteria are defined for the permanent or temporary deferral from donation with respect to the transmission of HIV. Permanently deferred from donation are the following:
Persons with a confirmed HIV infection.
Persons with non-prescribed IV or IM drug use.
Persons whose sexual behaviour puts them at high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases like HBV, HCV or HIV that can be transmitted by blood:
heterosexual persons with high-risk sexual behaviour, i.e. sexual contacts with multiple sex partners,
men who have sexual contacts with men
male and female sex workers.
Temporary deferral from donating blood is valid for persons:
who entered Germany from a country or a region, where they had been continuously resident for more than 6 months, with a comparatively high prevalence of HBV, HCV, HIV or HTLV-1/-2 infections,
who had sexual contacts with persons belonging to a group with an enhanced risk of infection with HBV, HCV, HIV and/or HTLV-1/-2 ,
with tattoos or body piercing.
How Can You Tell If You Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. You cant rely on symptoms to tell whether you have HIV.
Knowing your HIV status gives you powerful information so you can take steps to keep yourself and your partner healthy:
- If you test positive, you can take medicine to treat HIV. By taking HIV medicine daily as prescribed, you can make the amount of HIV in your blood very lowso low that a test cant detect it . Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. If your viral load stays undetectable, you have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
- If you test negative, there are more HIV prevention tools available today than ever before.
- If you are pregnant, you should be tested for HIV so that you can begin treatment if you’re HIV-positive. If an HIV-positive woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be very low.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online, or your health care provider may be able to order one for you. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
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Hiv Symptoms Every Woman Needs To Know
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, attacks the bodys infection-fighting immune system. Without treatment, HIV can lead to AIDS . At the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, people who were infected with HIV quickly progressed to serious disease. But todays treatments help lower the amount of virus in the bloodso people who are HIV-positive can live healthier, longer lives and not necessarily progress to AIDS.
More than one million people in the US live with HIV, and scarily, one in seven of them dont know they have it. HIV symptoms can be hard to detect. Within a month or two of HIV entering the body, 40% to 90% of people experience flu-like symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome . But sometimes HIV symptoms don’t appear for yearsor even a decadeafter infection.
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“In the early stages of HIV infection, the most common symptoms are none,” Michael Horberg, MD, director of HIV/AIDS for Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, California, tells Health. As many as one in five people in the United States with HIV doesn’t know they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control . That’s why it’s so important to get tested, especially if you currently have or have had unprotected sex with more than one partner or use intravenous drugs.
HIV symptoms for women and for men are often the same here are 16 of the most common signs.
What You Can Do To Reduce Stigma
You can help reduce stigma by being respectful, compassionate and non-judgemental. Model this behaviour for others when you witness stigmatizing behaviours.
When talking about HIV, certain terms can be stigmatizing. Be thoughtful about the words you use when discussing the topic.
Learn more about the facts of HIV. Treatment can lower the amount of virus in a person’s blood to a level that’s too low to be measured on a standard blood test. This means it’s undetectable.
People living with HIV on treatment who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sexual partners.
Knowing and sharing these facts widely can help to reduce stigma. Share our Undetectable = Untransmittable infographic to help us raise awareness.
In addition, HIV is not transmitted through:
- healthy, unbroken skin
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Early Symptoms Of Hiv
The first few weeks after someone contracts HIV is called the acute infection stage.
During this time, the virus reproduces rapidly. The persons immune system responds by producing HIV antibodies, which are proteins that take measures to respond against infection.
During this stage, some people have no symptoms at first. However, many people experience symptoms in the first month or so after contracting the virus, but they often dont realize HIV causes those symptoms.
This is because symptoms of the acute stage can be very similar to those of the flu or other seasonal viruses, such as:
- they may be mild to severe
- they may come and go
- they may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks
Early symptoms of HIV can include:
- upset stomach
Because these symptoms are similar to common illnesses like the flu, the person who has them might not think they need to see a healthcare provider.
Whether a person has symptoms or not, during this period their viral load is very high. The viral load is the amount of HIV found in the bloodstream.
A high viral load means that HIV can be easily transmitted to someone else during this time.
Initial HIV symptoms usually resolve within a few months as the person enters the chronic, or clinical latency, stage of HIV. This stage can last many years or even decades with treatment.
Donor Testing And Significance
In Germany, both HIV antibody and HIV NAT testing are mandatory.
2.3.1 HIV Antibody Testing
Initial testing of a donation is carried out with antibody screening test systems approved in Europe according to the German Medicinal Products Act in connection with the In Vitro Diagnostics Directive . Tests used in Germany recognise antibodies to all known HIV-1 groups and HIV-2. Reactive screening test results must be followed by a serologic confirmation test or a NAT assay. An additional second blood sample has to be investigated for confirmation of an HIV infection . Until the results are clarified, the donation is separated and should be preserved for additional investigations. The donor is deferred until the final results are available . According to current knowledge, the vast majority of reactive HIV antibody screening test results of blood donors are non-specific, i.e. false-positive, and have other causes, e.g., immune complexes in the specimen .
2.3.2 Detecting HIV RNA by NAT
The diagnostic window period, which is between 3 and 6 weeks for antibody screening tests, can be shortened by application of NAT. Depending on the level of viraemia, the sensitivity of the assay used and the infecting HIV, an infection can be detected as early as about 11 days post infection . The HIV NAT enables sensitive detection also of non-HIV-1 M:B. Reference materials for the detection of different HIV-1 genotypes are available .
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Is There A Period When The Virus Isnt Transmittable
HIV is transmittable soon after its introduced into the body. During this phase, the bloodstream contains higher levels of HIV, which makes it easy to transmit it to others.
Since not everyone has early symptoms of HIV, getting tested is the only way to know if the virus has been contracted. An early diagnosis also allows an HIV-positive person to begin treatment. Proper treatment can eliminate their risk of transmitting the virus to their sexual partners.
Effects On The Immune System
HIV primarily affects the body by targeting and damaging cells in the immune system. The immune system protects the body against viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
After attaching itself to a type of white blood cell called a CD4 T cell, the virus merges with it. These T cells are an important part of the immune system.
Once inside the CD4 T cell, the virus multiplies. It damages or destroys the cell, then moves on and targets other cells.
A persons CD4 T-cell count is an indication of the health of their immune system.
A healthy CD4 T-cell count is 5001,600 cells/mm3 of blood. If a person does not receive treatment for HIV, their CD4 T-cell count drops over time.
When it drops below 200 cells/mm3, the persons immune system is significantly impaired, making them more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
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Severity And Course Of The Disease
The course of an HIV infection is always chronic, ending fatally without antiretroviral therapy. CD4 cell disintegration and clinical symptoms can be decelerated or suppressed by antiretroviral therapy for decades . In untreated HIV-1 infections, AIDS-defining symptoms appear after a mean of about 10 years, with a range of 2-25 years. HIV-2-induced AIDS becomes apparent after a mean of approximately 15 years . With antiviral therapy it is possible to extend the phase without or with only slight symptoms for many years .
Lack Of Symptoms In Early Stages
ARS is common once a person has HIV. Still, this isnt the case for everyone. Some people have HIV for years before they know they have it. According to HIV.gov, symptoms of HIV may not appear for a decade or longer. This doesnt mean that cases of HIV without symptoms are less serious. Also, a person who doesnt experience symptoms could still transmit HIV to others.
Symptoms in early HIV tend to appear if the rate of cell destruction is high. Not having symptoms can mean that not as many CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell, are killed early on in the disease. Even though a person has no symptoms, they still have the virus. Thats why regular HIV testing is critical to prevent transmission. Its also important to understand the difference between a CD4 count and a viral load.
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Diagnosis In Men Vs Women
Doctors diagnose HIV in both men and women by testing a blood or saliva sample, although they could also test a urine sample. This test looks for antibodies produced by the person to fight the virus. The test typically takes around 3 to 12 weeks to detect antibodies.
Another test looks for HIV antigens, which are substances that the virus produces immediately after transmission. These antigens cause the immune system to activate. HIV produces the p24 antigen in the body even before antibodies develop.
Usually, both the antibody and the antigen tests are done in labs, but there are also home tests that people can take.
Home tests may require a small sample of blood or saliva, and their results are quickly available. If the test is positive, it is essential to confirm the results with a doctor. If the test is negative, a person should repeat it after a few months to confirm the results.
Prevalence And Incidence Of Blood
Prior to the introduction of compulsory testing for HIV antibodies in May and October 1985, about 1,380 haemophiliacs and about 200 transfusion recipients were infected in Germany with HIV by blood donations and plasma derivatives . With the introduction of antibody screening tests and obligatory virus inactivation procedures in the production process of plasma derivatives, the number of HIV and hepatitis virus infections by transfusion declined significantly, especially in the first 2 years. Since 2004, HIV antibody testing and HIV NAT further reduced the potential HIV burden of the source material . Since 1990/1991 no HIV infections have been transmitted by plasma derivatives .
According to reports to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, 2 HIV transmissions by cellular blood components have occurred after the introduction of NAT screening in 2004 . Both transmissions were due to very recent infections and a failure of the NAT systems used. In the case of 2007, presumably a low viral load and mutations in the primer binding region were responsible for the false-negative test results . Regarding the transmission reported in 2009, the HIV-positive donor sample was repeatedly tested negative with the NAT system used .
As recommended for HIV-infected donors, plasma and lymphocytes of the HIV-infected recipient should also be stored in order to possibly clarify the origin of infection and the transmission using molecular methods .
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How Hiv Is Spread
HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person’s body, usually through:
- Sexual contact. The virus may enter the body through a tear in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Most cases of HIV are spread this way.
- Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person:
- Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item that is contaminated with HIV.
HIV may be spread more easily in the early stage of infection and again later, when symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
A woman who is infected with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
Changing Attitudes About Hiv
When someone is diagnosed with HIV, other people may have negative attitudes and beliefs about that person’s behaviour, lifestyle or circumstances in life. These negative associations form what’s called stigma, an experience that can decrease quality of life because it includes:
Efforts to end stigma will help to:
- prevent new infections
- ensure that people living with HIV receive the care, treatment and support they need
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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.
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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You Have A Canker Sore
Canker sores are tender, round, whitish pits in the lining of your mouthand they can be caused by inflammation as your body tries to fight off HIV, says Horberg.
They often cause a stinging sensation, and are more sensitive to acidic foods like lemons. It should be noted, however, that canker sores happen for a variety of different reasons too, like stress, food allergies, or hormonal changes.
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.
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