- by Medikoe Health Expert
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- Feb 09 2017
HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defense against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell also called CD4 cells, and make copies of itself inside these cells.
HIV gradually destroys person’s immune system. If HIV is left untreated, it may take up to 10-15 years for the immune system to be severely damaged
As HIV destroys more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself, it gradually breaks down a person’s immune system. This means someone living with HIV, who is not receiving treatment, will find it harder and harder to fight off infections and diseases.
There is effective antiretroviral treatment available so people with HIV can live a normal, healthy life. HIV can be found in semen, blood, vaginal and anal fluids, and breast milk. It cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
Using male condoms or female condoms during sex is the best way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Always use a clean needle and syringe if you inject drugs. If you are pregnant and living with HIV, the virus in your blood could pass into your baby’s body, or after giving birth through breastfeeding.
The human body cannot get rid of HIV virus completely, even with treatment. The medicine used to treat HIV is called an Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
There are three stages of HIV infection:
- Acute HIV Infection
It is the primary stage of HIV infection and it generally develops within 2 to 4 weeks. People have flu-like symptoms like fever, headache and rash. In this stage, HIV multiplies rapidly and spreads throughout the body. The virus destroys the infection-fighting CD4 cells of the immune system. During this stage, the level of HIV in blood is very high.
- Chronic HIV Infection
It is also called asymptomatic HIV infection or clinical latency. During this stage, HIV continues to multiply in the body but at very low levels. People with this infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms, but they can still spread HIV to others. Without treatment with HIV medicines, chronic HIV infection usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, though it may take less time for some people.
AIDS is the most severe stage of HIV infection. Because HIV has severely damaged the immune system, the body can’t fight off opportunistic infections.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a disease caused by HIV virus. It is the most advanced stage of HIV, and if left untreated will lead to death. AIDS is a set of symptoms and illness that develop as a result of advanced HIV infection which has destroyed the immune system.
If you have HIV and your CD4 count falls below 200 per cubic millimeter, you will be diagnosed with AIDS. There is no cure for AIDS.
HIV may have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, or rash and these symptoms can be seen within 2 to 4 weeks after a person becomes infected with HIV. The symptoms may last for a few weeks after they become infected.
Opportunistic infections are one of the symptoms of HIV. These are infections and infection-related cancers that occur more frequently or are more severe in people with weakened immune systems than in people with healthy immune systems.
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