About the disease
HIV is a virus of immunodeficiency, making the individual more susceptible to infections and diseases. AIDS is a syndrome that develops in advanced stages of HIV. AIDS can develop in an individual who is HIV positive, if they do not receive any HIV treatment. It is possible to never develop AIDS if sufficient antiretroviral therapy is started early in HIV patients.
HIV attacks the T-cells of the immune system. Some people may live with HIV for decades, while others succumb to the virus in a matter of months. The severity of the symptoms caused by HIV depends on a group of factors. The patient’s age is proportional to their body’s ability to fight the virus. Previous infections and other medical conditions can accelerate the progression of disease. Genetic inheritance also plays an important role in the patient’s life expectancy.
There are several ways that HIV can be transmitted. The most common way is sexual transmission via unprotected intercourse, including anal and oral sex, as sexual fluids can contain the infection. An infected mother can pass HIV to her child during breastfeeding as well as during the gestation period and birth. Blood transfusions used to be another major risk for transmitting the HIV strain. Nowadays this risk has been dramatically reduced, as all blood from donors is thoroughly screened before it is administered to a patient. Nonetheless, using the same syringes, which is often the case among drug addicts, is another major risk of HIV transmission.
The time when HIV can manifest itself for the first time is very different in each individual case. In some people, symptoms of HIV can appear several weeks after the virus was contracted, while in others the virus can lie dormant for years. Each case depends on the ability of the individual’s immune system to resist the virus.
According to Medical News Today, 1 in 8 HIV positive Americans do not know they have been infected. This demonstrates the importance of undergoing regular testing for HIV, especially for those who have had unprotected sex with several partners.
- A cold that doesn’t go away
- Pain in the joints
- Easy bruising
- Sore throat
- Weight loss
- Muscle pain
- During a general examination, the doctor will ask the patient if they have experienced the symptoms listed above.
- The doctor will also ask the patient if they have ever had unprotected sex (including anal and oral sex).
- A blood test can confirm whether or not someone has been infected with the HIV virus. A blood test is usually sufficient for the diagnosis of HIV.
- Conservative treatment includes antiretroviral therapy that prevents the virus from progressing and keeps it in check as much as possible.
- There is no vaccine against AIDS and no cure for those infected with HIV. Nevertheless, antiretroviral therapy can considerably improve the quality of life and boost the life expectancy of those infected.