What is HIV?
HIV is a disease that attacks the immune system of the human body. This system is the natural defense mechanism that fights against illness. The immune system has white blood cells known as T-Helper or CD4 cells, and HIV attacks and destroys those cells. The virus starts making copies of it after destroying these white blood cells.
Once the virus has destroyed enough of the CD4 cells and has enough copies of itself, it succeeds in breaking down the immune system of the body. When any individual with HIV doesn’t receive treatment for the disease, he/she finds it very difficult to fight with other infections and diseases, and the healing process is also disrupted.
HIV should never be left unattended and untreated. If a person does not receive any treatment, in a decade or so, the immune system will be completely destroyed. It will be damaged so severely that the system itself will not be able to defend against anything. However, the progression of the disease depends on the person’s age, background, and health.
How it Effects the Body?
T-Helper is one white blood cell that attacks and destroys those cells that are infected or carrying germs. When the immune system doesn’t have a decent number of the T-Helper, the other white blood cells will also not function properly. This includes the B-cells; these cells produce antibiotics.
Any person who has HIV might not show any symptoms for years. If the virus isn’t treated in time, gradually the number of T-Helper cells will drop to such a low level that the body will become at great risk of AIDS. In fact, AIDS is the final stage of HIV.
HIV will not only affect the immune system, but it can cause danger to many of the organs in the body. These may include:
Since the body is prone to any sort of illness easily, these organs are top amongst the list of body parts that can be severely damaged or affected.
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus causes HIV. HIV can easily be transmitted into your body. If any individual comes in contact with infected blood, vaginal fluids or semen, the person will also get the virus.
The most common reason of HIV is unprotected sex. If some a person has sex with someone who is infected, that person also gets the disease. If a pregnant woman has HIV, it can be transmitted to the child. Also, during the breastfeeding period, the child can get the virus. If any person uses the needle of an infected person, this is also another way to get the virus.
However, the disease will never be able to do as well outside the body as it can within the body. So any direct contact outside the body will not be very harmful. For instance, a kiss or sharing a drink with a person who has HIV will not be very dangerous.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of HIV
There are no early symptoms of HIV. And, even if people do have some symptoms, they are often mistaken for mono or the flu. However, the following may be some common HIV symptoms:
- Sore Throat
- Skin Rash
- Joint Pain and Muscle Aches
- Swollen Glands
The symptoms may appear for days or weeks.
When a symptom lasts longer than usual and the doctors can’t find any other reason or cause for it, they may suspect HIV and have you tested. They might ask you to do a urine, blood, or saliva test.
Many people are not aware of the fact that they have the virus. This is one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV. Therefore, to prevent it from spreading, not only do you need to be cautious, but also keep others safe and aware. Here’s how you can prevent it:
Make Sex Safe: It’s okay to have sex with someone you barely know, but you should always use a condom. No matter if its oral sex, intercourse or anal sex, you need to make sure you have a condom on for safe sex. Only after you and your partner are certain that neither of you are infected with HIV, you can do away with protection.
Don’t Have Sex With More Than One Person: To be on the safe side, it’s best you have sex with only one person at a time. Don’t keep more than one partner. You should have just one partner with whom you have sex and you know that person makes love to you only.
Talking to Your Partner: If it’s your first time, you should try talking to your partner before having sex. You should take all measures to find out if either of you are at the risk of HIV.
Never Share Personals or Items of Use: You should always use your own accessories and items. Do not share them with anyone, especially a random person. Items such as razors and toothbrushes should not be shared.
Always use Your Own Syringes or Needles: Using someone else’s syringe or needle is never good. You should be careful with that. Also, don’t share yours with anyone.
Managing HIV with Medication
There is a combination of medication for the standard treatment of HIV. This is known as antiretroviral therapy, ART. This therapy lowers the speed of progression of HIV. When you take the medication, the virus itself will reduce, but not vanish and will allow you to stay healthy.
Experts are of the opinion that whenever a person finds out he/she is infected with HIV, the individual should start treatment immediately.
Doctors will also run a couple tests on regular basis to monitor the virus and also find out how severely it is affecting the immune system. These tests are Viral Load and CD4+ cell count. Through Viral Load, doctors can determine the amount of virus that is present in the blood. The latter test helps doctors to know the functioning of the immune system and how well it’s working.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV currently. Though there are treatments available to prevent progressing, a cure is still yet to be found.
HIV can be treated with a combination of medication. The medication is designed specifically to strengthen the immune system.
Over 70 million people have been infected with HIV since the epidemic began. Nearly 35 million people have lost their lives to the virus. According to a report, by the end of the year 2015 nearly 37 million people were infected with HIV across the globe.
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