Contracting an STD or a deadly disease is the last thing on a person’s mind. Contracting HIV is just the stuff of a person’s nightmare. However, it is just a matter of perspective. In this article, we will discuss the details of HIV, so that whoever is reading this gets a comprehensive and unbiased idea about the disease. Also, how to get tested for HIV.
In this article:
HIV: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
What is HIV?
HIV is the abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, also known as AIDS. Unlike other viruses, the human body is unable to get rid of HIV completely, even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it for the rest of your life. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the cells helping the immune system fight off infections. If left untreated, then HIV reduces the number of these cells, making the person more likely to get other infections or infection-related cancers. Over considerable time, HIV can destroy most of the immune system.
Symptoms of HIV
The early symptoms of HIV are similar to those caused by the flu. These are basically headache, fever, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, thrush, rash, muscle and joint pain, ulcers in the mouth, ulcers on the genitals, night sweats and diarrhea.
Early HIV symptoms arise within a couple of months after transmission, although they can arrive as soon as two weeks after exposure. Moreover, some people may experience no early symptoms after contracting HIV. These early HIV symptoms are also associated with common illnesses and health conditions. The lack of symptoms can last for as long as a decade. However, this doesn’t imply the destruction of the virus. HIV is a manageable health condition if not left untreated.
Causes of HIV
- HIV is usually transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, anal fluids, and breast milk.
- Anal or vaginal intercourse with a person who has HIV without using a condom.
- Sharing equipment for illicit drugs, hormones, and steroids with a person who has HIV
- A woman infected with HIV, who is pregnant or has recently given birth might transfer the disease to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
Confirming and regularly monitoring undetectable status using a blood test is necessary as this does not mean that the person no longer has HIV.
How to Get Tested for HIV?
HIV testing shows whether a person has HIV or the symptoms are of a different disease. While HIV testing can detect HIV infection, however, it can’t tell how long a person has had HIV or if the person has AIDS. Knowing your HIV status can help keep you as well as people around you safe.
If You are HIV Negative
If the test is negative, then be more aware about this disease and continue taking steps to avoid getting HIV, such as using condoms during sex or taking medicines to prevent HIV.
As a general rule, people at higher risk for HIV should get tested each year, such as sexually active gay and bisexual men. The technicalities of the test will be provided by you doctor, so approach them without any hesitation.
Treatment for HIV
No cure is currently discovered and available for HIV or AIDS. However, treatments can stop the progression of the condition and allow most people living with HIV the opportunity to live a long and relatively healthy life. Starting treatment early in the progression of the virus is crucial. This improves quality of life, extends life expectancy, and reduces the risk of transmission.
More effective treatments have evolved that improve general health and quality of life by taking as little as one pill per day.
A person living with HIV can reduce their virus amount in such a way that it is no longer detectable in a blood test. This just shows how with the right treatment, the disease will cease to exist only in name and you can lead a healthy life without the risk of transmitting this disease to anyone around you.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Alongside managing HIV viral load with medications, a person who lives with the disease must take precautions such as follows:
- Wear condoms to prevent other STDs.
- Discuss prevention in detail with your primary care physician.
- Limit exposure to the discarded material in hospitals.
- Avoid foods at risk of contamination, such as undercooked eggs, unpasteurized dairy and fruit juice, or raw seed sprouts.
- Do not drink water straight from a lake or river or tap water in certain foreign countries. Drink bottled water or use water filters.
Therefore, to conclude, HIV is a deadly disease, but only if you left it untreated. Detecting it right at the onset and then immediately getting into an ideal treatment program can go a long way towards reducing the risk of the disease. Also, try and educate yourself on the disease, irrespective of whether you are affected or not. Try to make things easier for the people affected.