AIDS or Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome is caused by a virus called HIV i.e. Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus directly attacks and weakens the body’s immunity that fights against infections by destroying special white blood cells called T-cells. If the treatment is not aggressive, it may progress to the full blown disease of AIDS.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is transmitted via the following:
Unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, oral)
Sharing infected needles, razors
A person must come in direct contact with infected body fluids to contract an HIV infection.
HIV positive patients often face discrimination from their loved ones and face rejection at their work place or become helpless victims of violence. This is inhuman as HIV does not spread through contact with skin or by sharing vessels, clothes, and personal belongings.
What is the HIV test?
An HIV test will detect the antibodies that are produced by your body against the virus. It takes almost 2 to 6 weeks for antibodies to appear in the blood after a person has been exposed. Usually, testing is done at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months after exposure to detect HIV infection.
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What are HIV signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of AIDS do not appear immediately, nor do the symptoms of an HIV infection. After the first few weeks of being infected, you may experience a mild fever with tiredness and a sore throat. These symptoms subside after a week or two and you enter the chronic stage. This stage can last from a year to a decade depending on your immunity and exposure to risk factors. This is followed by AIDS.
The final phase is where the person experiences early symptoms like-
Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
Swollen lymph nodes
Fever with rashes
As the disease progresses and immunity weakens further, in advances stages, the T cell count drops drastically (below 200) making one prone to numerous other infections. There may be severe lymph node swelling, mouth and vaginal infections, abnormal weight loss, fever, night sweats etc. It is these infections that produce symptoms and not HIV itself. If left untreated, these infections can lead to death eventually.
Is HIV serious?
If HIV treatment is taken in time, an infected person can still continue to have a normal lifespan. The quality of life can be as optimum as per their abilities.
Is HIV curable?
As of today, there is no definite cure for HIV. Anti-Retroviral therapy (ART) can help control the dropping CD4 counts. With new research in immunotherapy for HIV- AIDS, very soon there may be a cure for HIV.
How to prevent HIV?
The best way to prevent an HIV infection is to:
Practice safe sex, use a condom before every act of intercourse.
Avoid using used needles in injectable
Do not share razors, blades etc.
Ensure the blood is checked before transfusion
It is always beneficial to talk to an HIV counsellor or AIDS support groups if you have been diagnosed with AIDS.
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