HIV and AIDS: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

Home » HIV and AIDS: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention
Garry Stewart
Written By Shasta Wilson

April 20, 2023

Medical Condition - HIV and AIDS

HIV is an acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus that attacks the cells in the body, which facilitates fighting infection. It makes a person’s body more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

It is spread by contact during unprotected sex, through sharing injection drug equipment, or with specific bodily fluids of a person with HIV.

If HIV is left untreated, it can lead to AIDS!!

What is AIDS?

AIDS refers to the last stage of HIV infection that takes place when a body’s immune system is badly infected and damaged due to the virus.

A person with HIV infection is considered to have progressed to AIDS when

  • The number of CD4 cells falls down below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.
  • Developed one or more opportunistic infections irrespective of CD4 count.

However, without any HIV medicine intake, people with AIDS usually survive around three years. But once a person has a dangerous opportunistic illness, the life expectancy devoid of any treatment falls to about one year.

How to figure out if I have HIV?

The only way out to figure out the disease is to get tested for it!

Testing is the only option to figure out if a person has the disease, and yes, for this, you can easily ask your health care service provider to conduct a test.

How does HIV get transmitted?

One can only get the disease by directly contacting the specific bloody fluids from a person with HIV who already has a detectable viral load.

These fluids include:

  • Semen and pre-seminal fluid
  • Blood
  • Rectal fluids
  • Breast milk
  • Vaginal fluid

For the HIV transmission to take place, the HIV infection present in these fluids must get into the bloodstream of a person with negative HIV status through the mucous membrane, sores, open cuts and injections.

People with HIV can take medicine daily as prescribed by the doctors and keep an undetectable viral load have efficiently no risk of sexually transmitting the HIV infection to the partners.

How is HIV infection spread from one person to another?

HIV can be spread only through specific activities. The most common ways of transmitting the infection include

  • It can be transmitted through sexual intercourse with HIV-negative partners devoid of any protection.
  • Sharing injection drug equipment like needles.

However, the less common ways include

  • From a mother to the child during birth, pregnancy, or breastfeeding
  • Getting stuck with HIV contaminated needle

Rare Transmission Cases

  • Having oral sex
  • Receiving blood products, blood transfusions, or organ transplants
  • Contact between wounds, broken skin or mucous membrane and HIV infected blood-contaminated fluids.

However, there are several myths about the disease, and people often avoid the patients. So you gotta understand that HIV cannot be spread by

  • Water or air.
  • Ticks, mosquitoes, or other insects.
  • Shaking hands. Sharing toilets, sharing dishes or glasses, hugging, or any other.
  • Drinking fountains.
  • Other sexual activities that do not involve the body fluid’s exchange.

Who is at a higher risk of HIV?

Anyone can get HIV infection, but specific groups have a higher risk of getting infected with the disease. This includes:

  • People who have sexually transmitted diseases.
  • People who injected drugs with the shared needles.
  • People who engage in risky sexual behaviours.
  • Bisexual men.

Symptoms of HIV

The initial signs of the HIV infection can include flu-like symptoms. This includes:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fatigue

The abovementioned symptoms may come and go within two to four weeks, as this stage is known as acute HIV infection.

If the infection at this stage is not treated, it can become a chronic HIV infection. However, often there are no symptoms at this stage, but if not treated on time, it can eventually weaken the body’s immune system.

HIV Treatments

This is true that there is no cure for HIV infection. But it can be treated with medications. The medicinal treatment of HIV is known as antiretroviral therapy, making the infection a manageable chronic condition.

The therapy also diminishes the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Most people with the disease live longer if they start the treatment on time. However, it is essential to take good care of yourself and lead an enhanced quality of life.

Can HIV/ AIDS be Prevented?

One can diminish the risk of transmitting the virus or infection by

  • Getting tested for the infection.
  • Selecting less risky sexual behaviours.
  • Not injecting drugs.
  • Getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases and treated for the same.
  • Talking to the health care provider about the medications to prevent HIV.
The HIV infection weakens the person’s immune system and makes them more likely to develop several other diseases and specific types of cancers.
Let us get acquainted with the complications involved

Infections common to HIV/ AIDS

  • Pneumocystis Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Candidiasis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Cryptococcal Meningitis

Cancers common to HIV/ AIDS

  • Kaposi’s Sarcoma
  • Lymphoma

Other complications involved!

  • Wasting syndrome
  • Kidney Disease
  • Neurological Complications
  • Liver Disease

Bottom Line!

Since the disease has no cure, one gotta be really careful with several activities that can increase the risk of getting infected by the disease.

Do not forget to take all the precautionary measures and be extra careful with the risks involved. Get yourself evaluated immediately if there is by any chance you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.

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