- by Manipal Hospitals
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- Feb 23 2017
How Does HIV Affect Your Body?
These days most of us are familiar with the word “HIV” and have heard it being used commonly everywhere. HIV is a virus that is an enemy for your immune system; HIV compromises the natural defense mechanisms of the body and makes you more prone to infections. A person infected with HIV finds it too hard to even fight against the easy infections like the common flu. This is because the virus destroys the white blood cells called T-helper cells.
What happens when HIV enters the body?
HIV destroys the white blood cells that help the immune system to combat against infections. If it is untreated, HIV reduces the count of T-cells in the body making it hard for your body to fight against diseases and infections.
What are the effects of HIV on the body?
HIV causes severe damage to your immune system. Additionally, HIV damages the other systems of the body, such as respiratory, gastrointestinal, nervous, and skin systems. Although we cannot treat the HIV infection, the damages caused by the HIV on other systems of the body can be treated.
Different body systems affected by HIV
The first consequence of HIV infection is the destruction of immune cells called T-cells which are crucial to fighting against any disease. HIV can transform into AIDS within ten years of span. During this period HIV does all the damage that it can, on your immune system. You might be prone to several infections, such as candidiasis, pneumonia, cryptosporidiosis, herpes simplex virus infections, etc. General symptoms of these infections include night sweats, fever, chills, fatigue, rashes on the skin, weight loss, and shortness of breath well.
People with HIV and AIDS have a compromised immunity, which acts as an invitation to the the bacteria, viruses, and fungi to dwell inside the body and affect the neurological system. The complications include AIDS dementia complex, gait disorders, seizures, lymphoma, and toxoplasmosis. The common symptoms of the above conditions are presented as short-term memory loss, alterations in behavior and coordination. When you experience such symptoms, you must immediately consult a physician.
When HIV develops into AIDS, infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and Kaposi’s sarcoma are caused which in turn may cause severe respiratory complications making it difficult for you to breathe. This can provoke a dry cough and fever as well.
Gastrointestinal disorders are the most commonly found conditions in the HIV-affected individuals. Gastrointestinal symptoms are reported by nearly 50–70% of HIV-infected persons. The patient may experience GI complications such as nausea, vomiting, weight loss, tumors in the tract, unusual bleeding and abdominal pain. But the most common HIV-related GI complication includes diarrhea and weight loss.
The skin conditions of a HIV-infected person may include dermatitis, psoriasis, and hives. Kaposi’s sarcoma, a skin cancer affects AIDS patients very rarely. It is usually presented as a pinkish-brown lesion on the skin which would later modify as tumors. Your surgeon would remove the lesions with surgical intervention, but if the cancer spreads to the other organs such as lymph nodes or any other internal organs, then you would require chemotherapy and radiation.
HIV harms your heart too. It raises the risk of pulmonary arterial hypertension and finally adds load to the heart making it to over work and finally weakens your heart. Dilated cardiomyopathy, myocarditis, pulmonary hypertension, endocarditis, drug-induced cardiotoxicity are the most common manifestations in HIV-infected person.
Facts about HIV transmission
You do not get infected by HIV from hugging, holding hands or by sitting near an HIV positive patient. It does not spread through sneeze or coughs. HIV is transmitted through blood, semen, and injections used by the infected person.
Getting to know about these affects of HIV may make your jaw down. But as every problem has a solution, likewise these problems can also be treatable. The life expectancy and quality of life of HIV patients can be improved greatly by following healthy living habits, by drug regimens and dietary modifications. You must take certain measures to avoid the spread, such as having safer or protected sex, and must avoid sharing needles. As the science is always there to sort out the problems, there are newer treatments that can slow down the process of progression of the disease.
- Barbaro G. et al. AIDS Rev.infection and the cardiovascular system. Apr-Jun 2002; 4(2): 93-103.
- Nancy F. Crum-Cianflone, HIV and the Gastrointestinal Tract, 010 Sep; 18(5): 283–285.
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