What Is HIV?

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV is a virus that targets the immune system of the body that fights infections. Over 1 million individuals in the United States live with HIV and one in seven of them are unaware that they’re suffering from the disease. The virus is present in the bodily fluids and blood of those who are infected by HIV. If not treated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, those who were infected by HIV quickly developed a severe illness. However, modern treatments can reduce the amount of virus present in the blood, so that people who are HIV-positive live longer and healthier lives.

HIV can affect anyone, however gay and bisexual males are especially vulnerable and account for more than two-thirds of new cases of HIV in the U.S. Black and Hispanic individuals are particularly affected.

HIV is typically transmitted via sexual contact or the use of needles, syringes and needles shared and other equipment which are used to inject drugs. There’s no cure available for HIV However, medication can stop the disease from getting worse.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is a contraction of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is the most advanced form of HIV. It refers to the group of symptoms that an individual develops when their immune system becomes insufficient to fight the infection.

Patients with AIDS suffer from severe damage to their immune systems. This can be identified in by two methods. One method is by the quantity of CD4 cells found in the blood sample. (A CD4 cell is a type of white blood cell that fights infections.) HIV destroys CD4 cells, so a person’s count declines. AIDS has been identified at the point that the CD4 count is lower than 200 cells for every cubic millimeter of blood.

(A healthy person’s CD4 count is between 500 to 1,500.) Another indication of AIDS is when someone suffering from HIV experiences an infection or several no matter their number of CD4 which are more frequent or more severe for those with weak immune systems. These are known as”opportunistic” infections.

If not treated, HIV gradually destroys the immune system. The time needed to allow HIV to develop into AIDS is different between individuals. It typically is 10 years. Treatment advances have assisted millions in avoiding the symptoms of AIDS.

20 Things You Need to Know About HIV

The signs and symptoms of HIV

HIV symptoms aren’t an exact indicator of infection. There are people who be sick in the first 4 weeks after the infection, while other people may not show any symptoms for 10 years or longer. Additionally, the initial symptoms of HIV are similar to those of other diseases. The only way to determine if you are suffering from it is to test yourself.

An estimated 40-90 percent of people suffering from HIV have flu-like symptoms within two or four weeks of becoming infected as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Certain people might not experience any symptoms at the beginning of HIV or acute infection. HIV might not appear on some tests for diagnosis at this point in time. But this is that the virus is the most infectious.

Early signs of HIV are those that manifest in the first six months after infection (including the initial of two or four weeks) could include muscle aches, fever as well as fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or a mixture of symptoms reminiscent of influenza. HIV skin rash could be a sign of infection or an adverse consequence of medication.

The symptoms can last from up to some weeks. Symptoms could be characterized as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Following the initial stage of the disease, those suffering from HIV might experience minimal or no symptoms. Without treatment, this chronic phase of the disease may be present for up to a decade and those who are taking medication for HIV are able to remain in this stage for longer.

But, the virus is active and HIV is still a risk in this stage. Even those who do not have symptoms could transmit the virus to other people. Treatment can reduce levels of the virus that is present in the blood, which makes it less probable to transmit the virus.

If not treated, HIV eventually batters the immune system to the point where patients suffering from the disease are susceptible to all kinds of serious diseases. The late-stage HIV symptoms can include:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Recurring fever
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Consistent cough
  • Anus, mouth, or the genital area.
  • The lymph glands of your armpits, the groin or neck
  • Depression, memory loss, or other neurologic problems
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Blotchy skin
  • Pneumonia
  • Night sweats


What Is HIV?

What are the causes of HIV?

HIV causes death and destruction of the specific kind of white blood cell known as the CD4 cell. They are normally used to guard against infections. However, when HIV is introduced into the bloodstream, the virus makes use of the cells to create copies of itself and then moves all over the body.

The process is carried out in a series of stages, referred to in the “HIV life cycle.” In the beginning, HIV attaches itself to the outer surface of the CD4 cell. It then bonds into the membrane in order to get into the cell. It then converts the genetic information (RNA) into DNA allowing it to enter the cell’s nucleus. Then, HIV inserts its viral DNA into the DNA of the CD4 cell and then produces HIV proteins that are utilized to create more HIV. Then, the newly created proteins, as well as the HIV RNA, are released out of the cell, creating the new HIV that is capable of infecting other cells and the process starts with a new start.

HIV is thought to have existed in the U.S. since the 1970s. Researchers believe its origins lie in Central Africa. They believe that a virus they found in chimpanzees leaped species and changed into HIV during the latter part of the 1800s, as humans who were hunting chimps to eat were exposed to the blood of the animals. U.S. health officials reported the first instance of what was later referred to as AIDS in June of 1981.

How do you get HIV?

Most people acquire HIV through sexually induced behaviors as well as the use of needles and syringes since these activities expose them to the body fluids and blood of those with HIV.

The virus is found in semen, blood pre-seminal fluid as well as vaginal and rectal fluids, as well as breast milk. You may contract HIV in the event that one of these fluids contaminated by HIV is absorbed into your bloodstream or by the mucous membranes (found in the vagina, rectum mouth, penis) and/or damaged tissues.

The majority of people get HIV through an asexual or vaginal sexual relationship with someone with HIV who isn’t wearing condoms or medication that treat HIV or stops transmission.

Rarely, infants of mothers who have HIV might have the infection at birth or get it after pregnancy or nursing. Health professionals who handle HIV-infected needles, as well as other sharp objects, may be at risk of slipping and causing needlesticks which can cause infection.

It is rare for people to contract HIV when they have oral sex however, in theory, it’s possible, particularly when a person has oral sores that are open or bleeding. Other factors, such as menstrual blood, genital ulcers, and sexually transmitted infections can affect the likelihood of transmission through oral sexual contact. female-to-female transmission is uncommon, however, it is possible to occur.

HIV is not transmitted by casual contact. It’s not acquired through tears or saliva and kisses, mosquito bites or shared toilet seats, or food cooked by someone living with HIV. (Open-mouth kissing could be risky in the event that both partners suffer from gum bleeding or mouth sores.) While HIV was previously transmitted via donated organs, blood, and tissues, the screening methods across the U.S. have dramatically lowered the risk.

HIV prevention

It is possible to prevent getting HIV and decrease the chance of infecting others with the virus through the use of a variety of prevention strategies.

The most effective method to stop the spread of HIV from one person to another is to avoid sexual relations.

Before you start having sex, check who your partner is and their HIV status. Your partner and you must also be tested for any other Sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) and get treatment if needed. The presence of an STD could increase the chance of contracting HIV and spreading the virus to others.

Making sure you use condoms properly each time you experience any type of sexual activity is essential. Condoms are a barrier that can protect you from HIV. If you’re HIV-positive using a condom, will reduce the chance that you’ll transmit the virus to other people.

When you’re HIV-negative having fewer partners in your sex can reduce your chances that you will have someone suffering from HIV and/or another STD. If you’re at a higher risk of developing HIV discuss with your doctor about taking a daily medication.

Beginning medicines known as pre-exposure prophylaxis after 72 hours of exposure may assist in preventing the spread of infection.

If you’re HIV positive You can safeguard your partner as well as yourself by using antiretroviral therapy medicines.

How to Prevent HIV

HIV images

HIV disease is not asymptomatic, but the impact on the immune system develops with time.

Within a few weeks after contracting HIV it can be possible to suffer flu-like symptoms like fatigue and fever. At this point, the virus is rapidly multiplying and is spread throughout the body.

At some point, HIV enters a chronic stage. It is still active, but it replicates in a less rapid manner. It is possible to feel better and experience few signs or symptoms. However, the virus can destroy the immune system of your body if do not seek treatment.

The last stage is complete AIDS. It occurs when the number of white blood cells fighting infection known as CD4 cells decreases. The patient develops at least one more grave infection or disease.

Bacterial, fungal and viral, and parasitic diseases, like pneumocystis Kaposi’s Sarcoma and tuberculosis, are known as opportunistic infections. These infections are a result of an individual’s weak immune system.

Opportunistic diseases are less frequent nowadays than they were at the peak of the AIDS epidemic because modern treatments help people living with HIV to enjoy longer and healthier lives. But, they do happen particularly if people aren’t aware that they have HIV or do not look for treatment.

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