HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) Is a virus that damages the human immune system. Untreated HIV affects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T cells. Over time, HIV kills more CD4 cells, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
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HIV is a sexually transmitted disease And most of his transfer Frequent The way is unprotected sexual contact.
Without treatment, HIV can cause disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), During which the immune system is too weak to respond successfully to other diseases, infections and pathological conditions.
The human body can not get rid of HIV, it can not be cured, so once you become infected with HIV, you remain infected for the rest of your life. However, when treated with anti-HIV drugs (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people living with HIV can live longer and healthier lives and prevent HIV transmission to sexual partners. In addition, there are effective methods to prevent HIV infection, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome - AIDS (AIDS)
AIDS Is a late stage of HIV infection that develops when the body's immune system is severely damaged due to a virus.
HIV progresses to AIDS and an HIV-infected person is considered to have AIDS when:
- The number of CD4 cells in an infected person is less than 200 cells / mm3 (the number of CD4 cells in a person with a healthy immune system is up to 500-1600 cells / mm3) or
- An infected person develops one or more opportunistic infections regardless of the amount of CD4.
If AIDS has developed, it means that the immunity is severely impaired, i.e. the immune system is weakened to the point that it can no longer respond successfully to most diseases and infections. This makes a person with AIDS vulnerable to a wide range of diseases (eg pneumonia, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus infection, lymphoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, etc.)
Without treatment, people with AIDS typically live about 3 years. When a person has a dangerous opportunistic disease, life expectancy without treatment drops to about 1 year. HIV treatment can still help people at this stage of HIV infection and it may be the only way to prolong life. However, people who start antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as they become infected with HIV are more likely to benefit because antiretroviral treatment can help prevent AIDS - which is why HIV testing is so important!
Ways of transmitting HIV
You can only become infected with HIV through direct contact with various fluids in an infected human body, such as:
- Rectal fluids
- Vaginal fluids
- Breast milk
When transmitted by infection, the virus in these fluids enters the bloodstream of an HIV-negative person through a mucous membrane, through open wounds or ulcers, or by direct injection.
People living with HIV who take their daily anti-HIV medication and maintain a low viral load that cannot be detected are actually not at risk of transmitting HIV sexually to their HIV-negative partners.
The most common ways of transmission are:
- Sexual contact with an HIV-infected person without the use of a condom or HIV prophylaxis and anti-HIV medication (anal sex is more risky than vaginal);
- Sharing drug injection equipment with an HIV-infected person.
Less common ways are:
- Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding;
- Injury to the body with an HIV-infected needle or other sharp object (this poses a threat mainly to health care workers);
- Sharing tattoo equipment without sterilization;
- Chewing baby food by a parent before feeding the baby.
HIV is spread only in extremely rare cases:
- Oral sex;
- Transfusion of HIV-infected blood, blood products or organ / tissue transplantation;
- When bitten by an HIV-infected person;
- Contact between damaged skin, wounds or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids, etc.
HIV is not spread in the following ways:
- Mosquitoes, mites or other insects
- Saliva, tears or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of an infected person
- Kisses and touch (HIV cannot be transmitted through healthy, undamaged skin)
- Shared toilet;
- Sharing dishes, utensils;
- Kiss and touch;
- HIV cannot be transmitted through healthy, undamaged skin.
The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary according to the phase of the infection.
The first few weeks after becoming infected with HIV Stage of acute infection Are called.
During this time the virus multiplies rapidly and the human immune system responds by producing antibodies against HIV.
At this stage, some infected people do not have symptoms at first, and some experience flu-like or other seasonal virus-like symptoms within the first month, but they often do not realize that the cause of these symptoms is HIV.
Early symptoms of HIV infection may include:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- General pains
- Rash on the skin
- Sore throat
Despite the symptoms, the viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) is very high during this period, which means that the infected person is easily transmitted.
The initial symptoms of HIV usually disappear within a few months when a person becomes infected with HIV In the chronic, or clinically latent phase - At this stage of the infection, HIV still persists in the body and in white blood cells, however, many people may not have any symptoms or infection. This phase can last for many years or even decades.
Symptomatic HIV infection
As the virus continues to multiply and destroy your immune cells, you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as:
- Enlarged lymph nodes - often one of the first signs of HIV infection
- Lose weight
- Fungal infection of the oral cavity
- Infection caused by herpes zoster
Women living with HIV are at increased risk for the following pathological conditions:
- Recurrent vaginal fungal infections
- Other vaginal infections, including bacterial vaginosis
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause genital warts and cause cervical cancer
Progression to AIDS
Without treatment, HIV progresses to AIDS in about 8-10 years.
With AIDS, opportunistic infections or opportunistic tumors can develop - diseases that do not usually cause illness in people with healthy immune systems.
Some of the signs and symptoms of this infection are:
- Sweating at night
- Recurrent fever
- Chronic diarrhea
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or mouth
- Constant, unexplained fatigue
- Lose weight
- Rash or bumps on the skin
- Neurological problems such as concentration problems, memory loss and confusion
- Anxiety and depression
- Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
- Cytomegalovirus infection
- Kaposi's sarcoma
- Neurological complications
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Safe sexual contact (abstaining from sexual contact with an infected person, proper and regular use of condoms)
- Use antiretroviral therapy as a method of prevention
- Testing for HIV (HIV)
- Testing for Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Avoid sharing needles or other tools
Contact your doctor for detailed information on other prophylactic methods.
HIV can be diagnosed by a blood or saliva test.
Antigen / antibody tests. These tests detect HIV antigens and antibodies in the blood. A positive result may show 2-6 weeks after infection
Antibody tests. These tests detect antibodies to HIV in the blood or saliva. Most rapid tests for HIV are antibody tests. A positive result may show in 3-12 weeks.
Nucleic acid tests (NATs). These tests detect the real virus in your blood (viral load). It is the first test after infection that shows a positive result.
HIV testing is easier today than ever before!
Treatment should be started as soon as possible after being diagnosed with HIV, regardless of viral load.
Is the mainstay of treatment for HIV Antiretroviral therapy, A combination of daily medications that stop the virus from multiplying. It helps protect CD4 cells and strengthens the immune system.
Antiretroviral therapy prevents the progression of HIV infection and the development of AIDS. It also reduces the risks of transmitting HIV.
When treatment is effective, the viral load is reduced - a person still has HIV but the virus is not detected by tests. If an infected person stops antiretroviral therapy, the viral load will increase again and HIV can start attacking CD4 cells again.
Contact your doctor for detailed information on HIV treatment!
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