Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a condition caused by infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This virus primarily affects the immune system, especially the CD4 cells, which protect the body from illness. While no two people will have the same symptoms of HIV, the most common type of HIV symptoms are acute illness, advanced infection, sore throat, ulcers in the mouth, night sweats and fatigue.
HOW IS HIV AIDS DIAGNOSED?
There are specific HIV tests to identify the virus’ infection in the body. The General Physician or the Sexologist you consult with, may choose to do some counselling about the test, the expected results and the consequences thereof, so that the condition doesn't have any psychological effect on you. Blood tests to establish the CD4 T cell count is also done.
HOW IS HIV AIDS TREATED?
The treatment for HIV AIDS mainly consists of vaccinations using particular HIV vaccines that can fight and reduce the impact of the HIV virus. There is a lot of aftercare required to bring the patient back to normal and one should go by the recommendations of the doctor.
DID YOU KNOW?
There are pills that can be taken to prevent HIV AIDS virus.
One of the few diseases that causes social stigma, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a variety of conditions caused due to infection. The virus begins to attack the body’s immune system, specifically the cells that help the body to stave off infections, i.e. T cells. The virus slowly begins to destroy these cells and if left untreated, the body becomes seriously vulnerable to infections or cancer. Slowly they begin to take over the weak immune system, leading to the last stage of HIV infection, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
The first thing to do is to get yourself tested for HIV. It is important to note that most HIV tests detect the specific anti-bodies that have formed against HIV in your body and not the virus itself. Since your body takes a while to form these anti-bodies, testing for HIV may not be worthy in the first few weeks, as it will not show up. It has been seen that 1 out of 6 people with HIV don’t know they do. Therefore, getting tested is the most important in this scenario.
In the first stage of acquiring the condition, most symptoms go unnoticed except maybe a flu-like illness. This includes night sweats, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, mouth ulcers, and rashes. This stage may occur about two to four weeks after being infected. Following this, there is the clinical latency stage or the chronic HIV infection stage. In this stage, patients have very mild to no symptoms. There have been cases where the patient hasn’t felt any symptoms for a decade or so.
Treatment for HIV or AIDS is through anti-retroviral or ART medication that suppresses or reduces the potency of the HIV virus. This however is not a cure, but only slows down its progression to AIDS or to ease the symptoms of AIDS.
There has to be greater awareness of reproductive health, family planning, ways to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Government health ministries, healthcare organizations, NGO’s, local health facilities must join hands to facilitate this and make it possible. They have a great role in slowly removing the immense social stigma that surrounds HIV and AIDS.
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