HIV/AIDS – Conditions

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Overview

AIDS “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome” is a chronic, fatal disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS impairs the body’s capacity to fight infection and illness by compromising the function of the immune system.

Males and females are both at risk of contracting HIV, which is a sexually transmitted virus. It may also be passed from mother to child via contact with contaminated blood during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding, if the mother is infected. If you do not get treatment for HIV, it may cause your immune system to become weakened for years before you develop AIDS.

HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease that has no known cure. However, medicines may help reduce the development of the illness. AIDS-related fatalities have decreased in many industrialized countries as a result of these medicines.

Causes

The AIDS-causing virus is HIV. You cannot get AIDS unless you have acquired HIV.

In the absence of treatment, the virus continues to proliferate and destroy CD4 cells. When the CD4 count of an individual falls below 200, they are diagnosed with AIDS.

HIV may affect anybody, although certain people are at a greater risk than others.

·         People with sexually transmitted illness (STD) have high chances. If you have an STD, you increase your risks of acquiring or transmitting the virus.

·          Anal sex also increases the chances of HIV transmission.

·         High-risk sexual behaviors, such as those that do not involve the use of condoms, put people at risk.

Symptoms

The acute infection stage refers to the first few weeks after a person has been diagnosed with HIV.

The virus replicates quickly throughout this time period. HIV antibodies, which are proteins that assist the body in its fight against infection, are produced by the immune system.

During this period, some individuals experience no symptoms at all. Many individuals, on the other hand, develop symptoms within the first month or two after acquiring HIV, and they are often unaware that HIV is the reason for their symptoms.

HIV symptoms may range from moderate to severe in intensity. The symptoms may appear and go at any time, with durations ranging from a few days to many weeks.

The signs and symptoms of HIV infection differ depending on how far the infection has progressed. Persons living with HIV are at their most contagious during the first few months after their diagnosis. During the first few weeks following infection, people may suffer influenza-like symptoms such as fever, headache, rash, or sore throat. These symptoms are temporary.

Increased lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhea, and coughing are all indications and symptoms of HIV infection caused by the virus, which affects the immune system. If affected people do not get treatment, they may develop serious illnesses such as tuberculosis (TB), severe bacterial infections, cryptococcal meningitis, and malignancies such as lymphomas and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

A person’s viral load is very high at this time regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms. The viral load of an individual refers to the amount of HIV that is present in their bloodstream.

The virus may be readily transferred from one person to another due to the high viral load prevalent at this time.

After a person reaches the chronic or clinical latency stage of HIV infection, the first HIV symptoms usually disappear within a few months. It is possible that this phase will last for many years, if not decades, provided the patient receives treatment.

The majority of HIV symptoms are the same in both men and women. In HIV-positive men and women, STIs are more common than in the general population. In addition, HIV-positive women are more likely to acquire the following conditions:

·         Yeast infections that recur on a frequent basis in the vaginal area

·         Bacterial vaginosis and human papillomavirus (HPV) which may cause genital warts and cervical cancer

Diagnosis

Antibody/Antigen Test: The most often utilized diagnostic tests are antibody/antigen assays. They usually take 18–45 days to work, depending on the person.

During these tests, antibodies and antigens are searched for in the blood. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to an infection or other danger. Antigens are parts of viruses that trigger the immune system to react favorably to them.

Antibody Test: These tests essentially search for antibodies in the blood. The majority of individuals acquire HIV antibodies between 23 and 90 days after infection, and these antibodies may be detected in blood or saliva.

These tests, which are performed using blood tests or oral swabs and do not require any preparation. Some tests may be done in the office or clinic of a healthcare practitioner, and results can be received in as little as 30 minutes.

OraQuick HIV Test: This test makes use of an oral swab for diagnosing the condition.

Treatment

Following an HIV diagnosis, treatment should be initiated as soon as possible, regardless of the viral load present.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is a combination of daily medications that prevents the virus from reproducing, is the most frequent treatment for HIV in the United States. This aids in the protection of CD4 cells, ensuring that the immune system stays strong enough to fight disease.

ART is a kind of medication that keeps the virus from progressing to the point of causing AIDS. As a result, the risk of HIV transmission to others  is also reduced. 

Upon completion of therapy, the viral load is “undetectable.” Despite the fact that the person continues to have HIV, the virus is not visible in the results of the tests.

The virus, on the other hand, is still present in the body. If the person discontinues antiretroviral therapy, the viral load will increase once again, and HIV will once more assault CD4 cells, resulting in a relapse of the disease.

Reverse transcriptase inhibitors, nucleoside and non-nucleoside, as well as protease inhibitors, are the most significant medication types in antiretroviral therapy.

Because an HIV vaccine has not yet been produced, there is currently no treatment for this disease. Preventive actions, on the other hand, may significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting a disease.

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have been infected with HIV or are at danger of acquiring the infection. In case of noticing any symptom, it is crucial to see a doctor immediately. 


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