Since 2017-2021 HIV diagnosis has decreased to around 7% in the US. It is due to the awareness among people about HIV prevention and HIV treatments. Learn more about HIV treatment, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention, and causes.
What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that can interfere with your immune system and weaken it.
It makes it difficult for your body to fight infections and other diseases. Once you get infected with the virus, it can stay with you for life, as there is currently no proper cure to get rid of it.
The virus came from a type of chimpanzee found in Africa. It later spread to African humans and onwards.
How does HIV spread?
The virus enters your body through your mouth, anus, penis, vagina, and broken skin. Pregnant women can also transfer HIV to their children during birth and breastfeeding. Leading cause of HIV spread is due to unprotected sex.
The virus usually spreads through body fluids such as:
- Breast milk
- Vaginal fluid
- Rectal fluid
High chances of the virus spreading are during unprotected sex. Oral sex with an infected person can also transfer the virus if semen, blood, or vaginal fluid enters your body. Other than that, sharing needles also puts you at a high risk of getting HIV and other diseases.
Age, race, and sex does not matter anyone of any age, race, and sex can get the virus.
You can not rely on the HIV symptoms, which differ from person to person and at what stage they stand. There are three different stages of HIV that people might experience.
Within a few weeks of getting infected, most people experience a flu-like illness. The symptoms can include:
- Throat soreness
- Night sweats
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle aches
- Mouth sore
These symptoms necessarily do not conclude that you have HIV. It can also be due to other diseases.
If you are worried, take an HIV test to clear your mind. It’s better to find out early than regret knowing too late.
At this stage, you can have HIV for around 10-15 years and you don’t feel sick or any symptoms. You can still spread the virus. You can control the virus at this stage with proper healthcare consultation and medication.
When you reach this stage, the virus weakens your immune system rapidly. The late stage is called AIDS.
Symptoms of this stage include:
- Memory loss, depression, and other neuro diseases
- Weight loss
- Extreme tiredness
- Red, brown, pink, or purple patches around or under the skin of the eyelids, nose, or mouth
- Diarrhea that lasts for a week
- Swelling of lymph glands in the neck, armpit, or the groin area
Several HIV tests help HIV diagnosis:
The healthcare provider takes a sample of blood from your arm with the help of a needle. The results of antigen tests are available in 18 to 45 days.
The test is done to detect the presence of HIV in your blood or saliva. It is done with the help of a needle to draw a small amount of your blood from your arm or finger or by collecting your saliva sample. The results can take from 23 to 90 days.
Nucleic acid tests (NATs)
The procedure to collect the blood is the same as above. The results take around 30 days. If you are tested positive, your healthcare provider might also recommend you some other tests:
To avoid the later complications of the disease, you can try to prevent it. Prevention is always better than cure. HIV is a preventable disease. You can easily reduce the chances of getting the disease and also avoid it.
While there is currently no cure for HIV, it is beneficial to take steps to prevent its spread. The following are some ways that you can reduce the risk of getting and transmitting HIV:
Use protection during sexual activities:
Condoms decrease the risk of HIV transmission during sexual activity. Sexually active people need to use protection.
Get tested for HIV:
Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. Regular testing can help you manage your condition and prevent its spread.
Use clean and sterile needles:
Avoid sharing needles with others if you use syringic drugs or receive medical treatment with needles.
Disclose your status:
If you have HIV, it is essential to inform your sexual partners and anyone likely to come into contact with your bodily fluids.
Take medication as prescribed:
HIV-positive individuals should take antiretroviral therapy as prescribed by their healthcare provider. It can help reduce the amount of the virus in the body, reducing the chances of transmission.
Have a male circumcision:
It is proven that male circumcision reduces the chances of getting and transmitting HIV during sexual activities.
By following these steps, you can reduce their risk of contracting and spreading HIV and take control of their health.
The most common HIV treatment is antiretroviral therapy (ART). It uses a combination of medications to target the virus and prevent it from growing in the body.
These pills are taken daily and can reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to the extent that it is undetectable. It helps prevent the progression of HIV to AIDS and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus.
There are various types of ART medicines, each of which acts differently to prevent the virus from progressing. Currently these pills are the best HIV treatment available. Some of the pills are below:
- Entry inhibitors: These are also known as fusion inhibitors. it helps prevent the cell by protecting it from virus.
- Protease inhibitors (PIs).
- CCR5 antagonists.
- Integrase inhibitors
- Synergistic enhancers: do not contain ART properties. but very effective if used with other ART drugs.
- Combination of HIV medicines.
Without proper care and HIV prevention, you can spread and get the virus. It’s necessary to learn about HIV. It helps to provide more awareness of its seriousness.
Talk to your healthcare providers for proper guidance. It helps you to get valid recommendations according to your situation. Try not to take medicines on your own.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I prevent spreading HIV if I have it and work with many people?
If you have HIV and think others are at risk of getting it from you. No need to worry unless you do not indulge sexually with someone. The disease does not spread.
HIV does not spread through any ordinary contact with another person:
Hugging, shaking hands, sharing a pool, breathing the same air, and sitting together with someone.
Also follow HIV prevention methods to avoid spreading it.
Can you get HIV from kissing?
Usually, you do not get or transmit HIV by kissing. If you have a cut in your mouth and experience deep mouth kissing, there are chances you can get or transmit the virus.
You also do not get the virus from sharing cups, using public bathrooms, and donating blood.
What increases the risk of HIV?
Several risk factors can cause HIV:
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Late stage of HIV
- Unprotected sex
You can reduce the chances by applying prevention methods such as; using condoms, ART treatment, male circumcision, etc.
Is there any blood group resistant to HIV?
People with different blood groups have a different natural resistance to catching HIV. People with blood group B have the highest natural resistance to HIV, whereas people with blood group O have less natural resistance and are more likely to get it.
What are the chances of HIV transmission from mother to child?
The chances of transmission of HIV from mother to child are around 20-25 percent. It is possible during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. If you are a mother and have HIV, you can reduce the chances of transmission below 1% by following a few steps:
- Consuming antiretroviral therapy
- Keep your viral load undetectable
- Give HIV medicine to baby ( do not give medicine to baby without consulting doctor)