A Comprehensive Guide To HIV and AIDS

As per the survey of 2018, about 37.9 million people across the globe are diagnosed with HIV positive. 36.2 million people out of them were adults, and 1.7 million were children. 

About 1.7 million people across the globe were termed as the ‘New Infections’, according to the survey results of the year 2018. New infections are those groups of individuals who have been newly infected with HIV in a year. 

Nearly 79% of individuals worldwide knew they were HIV positive in 2018. The rest 21% were infected by HIV and AIDS but were unknown of their status.

What Is HIV?

  • HIV is an acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
  • HIV can cause AIDS (advanced stage) if no proper treatment is given.
  • In contrast to other viruses, the human body cannot eradicate HIV. 
  • Once you get affected with HIV, you will have it for lifelong.
  • It targets and transforms the immune system, thereby making your body prone to several other infections and diseases.
  • With proper treatment, most of the infected persons don’t get AIDS.

For reproduction, every single virus needs to infect healthy cells. HIV assaults the CD4 cells of immune cells that defend the body. When HIV attacks any cell, it transforms the cell into a virus factory. The virus gets multiplied in the body, which makes other CD4 cells infectious.

The diseased cells cannot work appropriately and ultimately die. That’s the main reason why your immune system deteriorates, making it difficult for you to remain healthy. 

What Is AIDS?

AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. 

  • Acquired: to obtain something, i.e., this condition is acquired.
  • Immuno: attacks the immune system. The immune system is a defensive system that fights bacteria and viruses and keeps the body healthy.
  • Deficiency: The immune system weakens over time.
  • Syndrome: people living with AIDS are prone to other infections and health conditions as well because of a weak immune system.

Symptoms Of HIV

Symptoms of HIV may vary from person to person depending upon the health condition of the person and the stage of the disease.

Have a look at the list:

1. First stage: Acute HIV Infection

Many people don’t experience the symptoms right after getting infected by HIV. But after a couple of months, they may have specific symptoms similar to the normal flu. The symptoms usually last for a week or two and then disappear completely. It incorporates:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rashes on your torso
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Mouth ulcers

Some people don’t experience any of these symptoms in the early phases of the disease. For people who get these symptoms should consult their healthcare specialist without delay.

Antiretroviral therapy( a combination of several medications) can help combat HIV. Your immune system will strengthen up, and you can prevent transmission of the virus to others. Take this medication sincerely and reduce the risk of the progression of this disease.

2. Second stage: Chronic HIV infection

The duration of this phase is not fixed. It depends on the person, their immune system, and the aggressiveness of the virus. The symptoms that you get in this phase will persist for an extended period. It includes:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Bacterial or fungal infection in throat or mouth
  • Shingles
  • White blemishes on the frenulum of your tongue

If you have any of the above-listed symptoms, go to your doctor and take the HIV test right away. It will make your immune system healthy and also prevent further spreading of the disease.

3. Third stage: AIDS

In this stage, the immune system breaks down, making it vulnerable to several other diseases. When you don’t get treatment in this stage of the disease, it may kill you. The symptoms of this stage include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Chronic diarrhea 
  • Sore throat
  • Pneumonia
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Sores of the mouth, genitals or anus
  • Recurring fever
  • Night sweats 

How Is HIV Transmitted?

People have a myth that HIV spreads through the following:

  • Air/Water
  • Saliva
  • Sweat
  • Tears
  • Feces
  • Urine
  • Pets or insects
  • Sharing food, drinks, and lavatories

HIV is actually transmitted through the following body fluids:

  • Blood
  • Semen 
  • Breast milk
  • Vaginal fluid
  • Rectal fluid

In the US, HIV is mainly spread by:

  • Having sexual intercourse with an HIV positive person without using any protection or taking HIV preventive medications.
  • Sharing medical equipment like needles or syringes with a person infected with HIV. 

How To Reduce The Risk Of Getting HIV?

You can reduce the risk of getting HIV by following these simple steps:

  • Put a limitation on your number of sexual partners.
  • Make use of condoms each time you have sex.
  • Don’t share your medical equipment with others.
  • You can take PrEP(Pre-exposure Prophylaxis). It is a preventive medication for those people who are not infected with HIV but are at a serious threat of getting infected. 
  • Pregnant women are given HIV medication, who are HIV positive. After giving birth, their children are also given proper medication to prevent the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child. 
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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for CheapMedicineShop.com. She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.