World Aids Day has just passed and understanding what it is and the infection that causes it is a big step in spreading awareness about it. Earlier the diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was considered a death sentence. However, today thanks to technological advancement and modern medical science have been able to come up with specialized treatments.
HIV is a virus that deteriorates the immune system. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus meaning only humans can have the virus and it attacks the immune system which leads to dysfunctioning of the immune system. Untreated HIV kills immune cells such as CD4 cells leading to cancer.
HIV can be transmitted via blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV gets its way into the DNA cells making it a lifelong condition. Currently, there’s no permanent cure for HIV, however, without treatment, it could lead to a serious condition called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV, CD4 cells in healthy people are 500-1600 cubic millimeters, if the count of the person with HIV falls below 200 cubic millimeters, they will be diagnosed with AIDS.
People with AIDS are vulnerable to various diseases including:
- Cytomegalovirus ( a herpes virus )
- Oral thrush
- Cryptococcal meningitis
Symptoms of HIV
HIV at the very first stage when the person contracts it which is also known as the acute infection stage. Some people may experience the symptoms while others do not and some may don’t even realize the symptoms of HIV. The symptoms may be mild, recurring, and last from anywhere few days to weeks.
Early symptoms are like flu whereas the viral load is very high making it easily transmittable. These includes:
- Sore throat
- Skin rash
- Upset stomach
- General aches and pains
- swollen lymph nodes
The next stage is the clinical latency stage and which may last for a few years to a few decades, these symptoms can be minimal and non-specific such as
- Headache, and other aches
- Recurring fever
- Sweating at night
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rash
- Weight loss
- Oral and vaginal yeast infection
At this stage, HIV can be transmitted even without symptoms, if anyone has similar symptoms and think they have been exposed to HIV urgently need to get tested.
Symptoms of HIV in Men
Symptoms might be similar in both men and women and vary from person to person. Men and women both are likely to develop STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and trichomoniasis, Men with a penis are more likely to notice sore genitals and STIs.
Symptoms of HIV in Women
Both men and women are likely to develop STIs but women are less likely to notice any changes in their genitals. Women with HIV are at higher risk of recurring vaginal yeast infection, other vaginal infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and human papillomavirus that could lead to cervical cancer. Women also risk transmitting the disease to the baby, if they are pregnant, however, today antiretroviral therapy is considered a safe option.
Symptoms of AIDS
This condition weakens the functioning of the immune system. If HIV is treated early on, it does not develop into AIDS. Some may develop AIDS if their antiretroviral therapy doesn’t work. A few symptoms of AIDS include:
- Recurrent fever
- Swollen lymph glands for a prolonged period
- Sweating at night
- Dark splotches inside the mouth, under the skin
- Soreness and spots on the mouth, tongue, genital and, anus
- Rashes on the skin
- Recurrent diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Anxiety and depression
- Trouble concentrating and confused memory
HIV could have been transmitted by African chimpanzees who scientists believed have the simian immunodeficiency virus which humans could have gotten by eating chimpanzees’ meat and later the virus mutated into HIV around the 1920s. HIV migrated to other parts of the world and was found by scientists in a human blood sample in 1959.
Treatment for HIV
Treatment of HIV should begin at the earliest. The treatment mainly is inclusive of antiretroviral therapy that strives to stop the virus from reproducing. This protects CD4 cells helping the immune system to take measures against the disease. Antiretroviral therapy not only stops HIV from further developing into AIDS but also reduces the risk of transmission. If the treatment shows effectiveness, the viral load will not be detectable but the person still might have HIV.
HIV can be transmitted to bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and breast milk. Some ways through which HIV can transmit include:
- Oral and vaginal sex
- sharing of needles, syringes, and similar items
- Sharing tattoo equipment without sterilizing it properly
- During labor and delivery
- During breastfeeding
- Chewing baby’s food before feeding it to them
HIV cannot be spread through
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Hugging, kissing, or shaking hands
- It is not airborne and doesn’t spread via water
- saliva, tears, or sweat
- Mosquitos or other insects
- Sharing bedding, toilet, or towels.
Bansal Hospital Bhopal has credible and proficient doctors who perform apt diagnoses and treatments. They will help you throughout the process and support you in the treatment of the most complicated diseases. The hospital has advanced technology and well-equipped laboratories that help in better assessment of the condition of the patient.