HIV is a virus that destroys cells of the immune system. Untreated HIV infects explicitly and kills CD4 cells ( called the T cells). If HIV remains untreated, the body becomes more likely to get other types of infections and cancers.
On the other hand, AIDS is a disease that can develop in people with HIV. It is the advanced stage of HIV that surfaces within a decade of living with untreated HIV.
Immediately an individual contracts HIV; it begins to reproduce in the body, thereby weakening the effect of your antibodies. The period between exposure to HIV and its detection in the blood is known as ” window period,” and it is within 23- 90 days after infection. During the window period, HIV tests might likely show a negative result.
Transmission Route For HIV Includes:
- Breast milk
- Vaginal and rectal fluids
HIV Is Spread From Person To Person Through:
- Vaginal or anal sex
- Reuse of needles, syringes, and other items for injection
- Reuse of tattoo equipment without any form of sterilization.
- In the course of pregnancy, labor, or delivery from a woman to her baby
- During the process of breastfeeding
- Pre-masticating a baby’s food before feeding it to them
On Infrequent Occasions, HIV Can Spread Through:
- Direct contact with broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and the blood of someone living with HIV
- Oral sex, this happens if there are bleeding gums or open sores in the person’s mouth
- Being bitten by a person with HIV: occurs if the saliva is bloody or there are open sores in the person’s mouth
HIV and AIDS: What Is The Connection?
To develop AIDS, a person must have been infected with HIV, infection with HIV does not necessarily guarantee infection with AIDS.
HIV progress through three stages and they include:
- The acute phase which happens first few weeks after transmission,
- The clinical latency, or chronic stage, and
- The third stage which is aids
Early Symptoms Of HIV
The acute infection stage is the first few weeks after exposure to infection. During this time, the virus multiplies rapidly, and the body responds by producing antibodies to these new antigens.
At this point, some persons show no symptoms, and most times, those who experience symptoms within a one to two after contracting the virus do not realize they are HIV symptoms because they show forth as symptoms of flu.
Early symptoms of HIV can include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Skin rash
- Upset stomach
- General aches and pains
Whether there are evident symptoms or not, at the acute stage of HIV infection, the viral load ( amount of HIV found in the bloodstream) is very high.
Early HIV symptoms mostly resolve within a few months as the person enters the chronic or clinical latency stage of HIV.
If drugs are not taken immediately, and the virus progresses from the clinical latency stage to AIDS, the following symptoms will be seen:
- Rapid weight loss
- Chronic fatigue
- Periodic fever
- Swollen lymph glands, especially of the armpits, neck, and groin
- Night sweats
- Dark blemishes under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
- Bumps, lesions, or rashes of the skin
- Memory loss and confusion
- Anxiety and depression
- Sores, spots, or wounds of the mouth and tongue, genitals, or anus
- Recurrent or chronic diarrhea
How To Test To Know If You Are HIV Positive Or Negative
Several tests can be employed for the diagnosis of HIV. The tests that you can carry out include:
Antibody/antigen tests are the most frequently used tests. They can show the presence of the virus within 18-45 days of exposure to it.
Between 22-40 days after transmission, most people begin to develop detectable HIV antibodies. Therefore this test is useful to detect these antibodies.
Nucleic Acid Test (NAT)
This test is expensive. Therefore it is not used for general screening. This test looks for the virus itself and not for antibodies. An antibody test confirms this test.
Post-exposure prophylaxis ( PEP) or pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP) should be administered to a person whose result shows negative because of the window period. They can be administered 72 hours after exposure to HIV. This prevents getting HIV and lower the risks of spreading the virus.
HIV Medications You Can Take
Antiretroviral therapy is a medication that prevents HIV from progressing to AIDS. It also aids in reducing the risks of transmission to others.
There are more than 25 antiretroviral drugs that have been approved for the treatment of HIV. These drugs prevent HIV from reproducing and destroying CD4 cells and help the immune system fight the virus.
With proper treatment, many persons are offered a long and productive life. The essential thing is to begin medications as early as possible.
Here are the six classes of antiretroviral medications and they include:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors( nrtis)
- Integrase strand transfer inhibitors
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (nnrtis)
- Fusion inhibitors
- Protease inhibitors
- CCR5 antagonists, also known as entry inhibitors
When treatment is effective, viral load becomes “undetectable.” However, the person still has HIV, but the virus will be no more visible in test results.
Though there is currently no vaccine available for the prevention of HIV transmission, there are several steps to take to prevent the spread of the virus. These steps include:
- Getting tested for HIV alongside your partner
- Test for other sexually transmitted infections (STIS) if results show positive for any, treat them.
- Use condoms during sex.
- Avoid sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia.
- Consider post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
- Consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
When it comes to HIV, prevention is better than cure. We would advise you try adhere to the prevention techniques we have shared in this article. If you have any advertise for others out there on how to prevent HIV, please comment below: