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.
What Is The Hiv Life Cycle
HIV attacks and destroys the CD4 cells of the immune system. CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that play a major role in protecting the body from infection. HIV uses the machinery of the CD4 cells to multiply and spread throughout the body. This process, which is carried out in seven steps or stages, is called the HIV life cycle.
How Long Does It Take To Develop The Disease
There is no fixed period between the first contact with HIV and the development of the disease. Signs and symptoms resulting from infection with HIV develop in stages. Many infected individuals may have no symptoms for several years. But others may develop symptoms within three years from the time of infection.
Symptoms of HIV infection are fever, swollen lymph glands in the neck and armpits, sweating, aches, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and diarrhea.
Within eight years, about 50 percent of all infected people develop specific conditions categorized as AIDS. These conditions include a lung disease called “pneumocystis carinii pneumonia,” skin tumours called “Kaposi’s sarcoma,” fungal and viral infections such as candidiasis and herpes zoster, and severe diarrhea.
Some AIDS patients also suffer from dementia resulting in problems with memory and thinking. AIDS patients are prone to various infections of the brain, just as they suffer from an unusually high number of cancers, bacterial and viral infections of other parts of the body.
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What Are The Seven Stages Of The Hiv Life Cycle
To understand each stage in the HIV life cycle, it helps to first imagine what HIV looks like.
Now, follow each stage in the HIV life cycle as HIV attacks a CD4 cell and uses the machinery of the cell to multiply.
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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Hiv Effects On The Circulatory System
Several things make your chances of heart-related problems go up. Because HIV affects your immune system, your body will be inflamed as it tries to fight the infection, like itâs on a constant simmer. This kind of inflammation has been linked to heart disease.
Some drugs you take for HIV can also make heart disease more likely. They can cause insulin resistance, which makes you more likely to get diabetes, and problems breaking down fats. Diabetes, in turn, raises your risk of heart disease. You might need medicines to control your blood sugar and cholesterol.
If you smoke, quit. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, plenty of whole grains, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products. Exercise, like taking a brisk walk, for 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week.
If you’re carrying extra weight, losing as little as 5 or 10 pounds could make a big difference.
What Is An Hiv Viral Load
A viral load test counts the number of HIV particles in a sample of blood. The result is expressed as the number of copies of HIV RNA per ml of blood. It is now generally accepted that 10,000 copies per ml or less, is considered low and 50,000 copies per ml and above, is considered high.
There are several tests that measure the amount of HIV particles present in the blood, although the tests become unreliable at low levels of infection. Originally this limit was less than 400 or 500 copies per ml. New ultra-sensitive tests are now able to measure to a lower limit of 50 copies per ml and these may become the tests that are more widely used. Depending on the test used, a measurement below the limit of detection may be referred to as undetectable.
The test for viral load is one of the monitoring tests that can indicate disease progression and may give an indication as to the likely course of HIV infection if left untreated. It is generally accepted that a higher viral load may lead to more rapid disease progression. Other indicators such as CD4+ count and symptoms should also be considered when deciding to take treatment.
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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.
Protease Inhibitors: A New Line Of Attack
In December 1995, the FDA approved a new type of drug for combating HIV. This class ofdrug acts by inhibiting protease, the enzyme required by HIV to cut its protein into theproper segments to assemble new viral particles. Protease inhibitors, used in combinationwith two reverse transcriptase inhibitors, have proven to be quite successful. In 80 to 90percent of patients, this combination treatment reduces the amount of HIV in the blood toan undetectable level.
As shown in Figure 3, the proteins produced from HIV’s genetic material are larger thanthe proteins needed to form new viral particles. In fact, a large “polyprotein”is formed that contains several viral proteins joined together. The polyprotein must becleaved into the individual functional proteins. This cleavage is catalyzed by protease. This enzyme is a symmetric homodimer, or a proteinconsisting of two identical peptide subunits. Like the active site of reversetranscriptase, the protease active site lies at the interface of its two subunits. Themechanism by which protease cleaves the HIV polyprotein will not be discussed in thistutorial. Protease inhibitors reversibly bind to the protease enzyme and, whilebound, prevent the enzyme from cutting the viral protein molecules down to their propersizes.
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How Antiretroviral Drugs Affect The Body
While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to very low levels. By doing this, it keeps the person healthy and prevents the transmission of the virus to other people.
A very low, or undetectable, viral load means that the risk of transmission to others is virtually zero, which has led to the phrase: undetectable = untransmittable .
Experts encourage all people with HIV, regardless of their CD4 T-cell count, to start taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after their diagnosis. Early treatment is key to a good outcome.
As with other medications, antiretroviral drugs can cause side effects in some people. However, modern drugs tend to produce fewer and less severe side effects than older drugs.
Possible side effects of antiretroviral drugs include:
Some side effects may last for a few days or weeks after the person starts treatment. Others may start later or last longer.
If a person experiences severe side effects that make them consider stopping treatment, they can talk to their healthcare provider. Stopping treatment or skipping doses can lead to drug resistance and limit a persons treatment options.
Some people can reduce some side effects by taking the medication 2 hours before going to bed. Other people may prefer to take it in the morning to prevent sleep disturbances.
Certain HIV drugs may also lead to less obvious changes, such as:
Can Hiv Be Prevented
To reduce the risk of getting HIV, people who are sexually active should:
- use a condom every time they have sex
- get tested for HIV and make sure all partners do too
- reduce their number of sexual partners
- get tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
- consider taking a medicine every day if they are at very high risk of getting infected
- Do not inject drugs or share any kind of needle.
- Do not share razors or other personal objects that may touch blood.
- Do not touch anyone else’s blood from a cut or sore.
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Preventive Treatment After Exposure
People who have been exposed to HIV from a blood splash, needlestick, or sexual contact may reduce the chance of infection by taking antiretroviral drugs for 4 weeks. These drugs are more effective when they are started as soon as possible after the exposure. Taking two or more drugs is currently recommended.
Doctors and the person who was exposed typically decide together whether to use these preventive drugs. They base the decision on the estimated risk of infection and the possible side effects of the drugs. If they do not know whether the source is infected with HIV, they consider how likely the source is to be infected. However, even when the source of the exposure is known to be infected with HIV, the risk of infection after exposure varies, depending on the type of exposure. For example, risk from a blood splash is less than that from a needlestick.
Immediately after exposure to HIV infection, what is done depends on the type of exposure:
If skin is exposed, it is cleaned with soap and water.
Puncture wounds are cleaned with antiseptic.
If mucous membranes are exposed, they are flushed with large amounts of water.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hiv
Symptoms of HIV vary depending on the individual and the stage of HIV infection.
- 2-4 weeks after infection, people with HIV tend to display flu-like symptoms, such as fever, swollen glands and sore throat.
- This is the bodys natural response to the HIV infection as it tries to fight it off.
- Generally this stage lasts from a few days to several weeks.
- The disease moves into a latency period where the virus continues to grow in the individual but without causing any symptoms.
- If left untreated, the latent period lasts an average of 10 years in people with HIV.
- For individuals given antiretroviral therapy , the latent stage may last for several decades because this treatment helps to keep the virus under control, preventing it from progressing to the next stage, AIDS.
Progression to AIDS
How is HIV treated?
- There is currently no cure for HIV but infections can be managed through regular clinical monitoring and antiretroviral treatments.
- These treatments control the HIV infection and prevent it progressing to AIDS.
- HIV-infected people who manage their infections with antiretroviral treatments are able to live long and healthy lives.
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How Can I Protect Myself
The best way to protect yourself from HIV is to not have sex and not share needles.
If you decide to have sex, reduce your risk of getting HIV by:
- using a condom every time you have sex
- getting tested for HIV and making sure all partners do too
- reducing the number of sexual partners you have
- getting tested and treated for STDs having an STD increases the risk of HIV infection
Understanding how HIV spreads can help you make safer choices about sex. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about HIV and if you want to get tested.
How Is Hiv Recognized
Doctors use laboratory tests to confirm HIV infection. The Elisa and Western Blot analyses identify people who have been exposed to HIV. These tests determine if the blood contains particular antibodies that result from contact with the virus. They do not identify who among a group of infected individuals will develop the disease. The presence of antibodies or HIV markers means the person has been infected with HIV but no one can predict when and if they will get AIDS related symptoms.
Doctors diagnose AIDS by blood tests and the presence of specific illnesses such as pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or Kaposi’s sarcoma. These diseases overcome the weakened immune system and are responsible for the high death rate among AIDS patients.
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Effect Of Cart In The Cns And Possible Treatments For Hiv
Today, cART is the standard treatment for all people newly diagnosed with HIV-1. cART has largely improved the quality of life of infected people, reducing morbidity and mortality associated to HIV/AIDS. Indeed, cART transformed HIV/AIDS from a mortal disease to a chronic disease requiring lifelong treatment. However, cART still faces important challenges such as its inability to eliminate the latent reservoir or to control persistent replication in macrophages and microglia. Several studies have reported that once patients stop treatment, a resurgence of HIV-1 takes place, which derives from latent reservoirs or from cells with persistent replication . In the last decade, it was determined that the increase in the new cases of neurocognitive disorders in HIV-1 positive patients is due to the HIV-1 infection itself and not an infection by other opportunistic pathogens .
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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Overview Of Hiv’s Attack On The Immune System
How does HIV invade and kill helper T cells, thereby depleting our immune system? Toanswer this question, we must first clarify what we mean by the term virus.Then we shall outline the major steps in the life cycle of HIV, and how these steps leadto the destruction of helper T cells. As you read this description, note that many ofthese steps are made possible by particular enzymes, biological catalyststhat change the mechanism of a biochemical reaction in orderto enable the reaction to proceed with a smaller activation energy.
A virus is often classified as a living thing, although it is not made up of cells,like other organisms. Viruses consist of proteins surrounding genetic material.Depending on the virus, this genetic material may be either DNA or RNA . Of the two types of viruses, DNA viruses and RNAviruses, HIV represents the second. A virus containing RNA is known as a retrovirus.In order to reproduce, a retrovirus must attach to a cell of the infected organism, insertits RNA into the cell, and make a DNA copy of the RNA. This DNA copy then incorporatesinto the cell’s own chromosomes , and uses the cell’s biochemicalmachinery to replicate the viral DNA , make viral proteinsfrom the DNA that is replicated, and assemble new viral particles from these proteins.
The steps by which HIV infects and kills helper T cells are described below, and can beviewed in Figure 3.