HIV is considered to be a virus that affects the immune system and reduces the ability of white blood cells to combat disease in the body. Without any treatment of HIV, the infection grows into an advanced infection stage known as AIDS. There is no treatment for HIV, but only antibiotics can be taken to treat the STD.
What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus is that virus which attacks the CD4 cells known as the T cells. These are the white blood cells that move around the body and detect any faults and infections in the body. When HIV targets these cells, it reduces the ability of white blood cells to combat any other diseases. Any increase in HIV can lead to infections and can also take the turn of cancer at times. HIV has no cure and is a long-term infection. When proper treatment is received, it does not turn out to be that severe.
What is AIDS?
The advanced stage of HIV is called AIDS. If HIV turns to AIDS, it becomes riskier and affects the body to a great extent. Without treatment, HIV turns slowly into AIDS as the immune system becomes weak. Many people are getting infected by AIDS yearly, and the reports show an increasing number. After the initial infection, symptoms like flu and cold can be experienced. The virus first stays hidden in the lymph tissues, and then it gets larger and gets converted to AIDS.
Relation between HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS might be related, but they are not the same. HIV is the virus. When HIV is not treated, then it goes on to become AIDS after the immune system gets damaged. Everyone who gets HIV doesn’t need to get AIDS. HIV, when not treated for about 15 years, turns into AIDS. Immunodeficiency refers to the part when the systems cannot fight illnesses the way it should. HIV can occur through blood, semen, or breast milk. It can be passed from contact with a person through sex or used needles, etc.
AIDS is the last stage of HIV. People with AIDS may either never get to know of the same, or there is a possibility that it did not get diagnosed properly. People who have a new HIV infection will first feel like they have the flu. Some other symptoms are fever, headaches, headaches, etc.
When you go for treatment, then the doctor will first see how much virus is there in your body and then go for the desired treatment.
Causes of HIV and AIDS
There are several reasons which can cause HIV and AIDS. One of the main reasons for HIV is the virus, which is found on Chimpanzees. Scientists believe that SIV first got transferred from Chimpanzees to humans from their direct contact. Once they were inside humans, it got multiplied, and then the trend of HIV started. This started way earlier in the year 1920.
HIV first started in Africa, and it got spread from person to person for several decades. After that, the virus got transferred to other parts of the world. The first blood sample was discovered by doctors in the year 1959.
Causes of AIDS
HIV causes AIDS. If you don’t have HIV, then you surely won’t be affected by AIDS. AIDS is an attack on the CD4 blood cells in the body. The count of CD4 is about 500 to 1500 per cubic millimeter. Even if someone has CD4b more than 200, then also they can be diagnosed with AIDS if they have HIV. Anyone infected with the HIV virus might get AIDS, and there is no treatment for that.
Symptoms of HIV
HIV might start with the common flu, which will then increase to a larger size. People having HIV might not know it in the beginning. The symptoms of HIV can be categorized into two major headings.
Early symptoms of HIV
The first and early-stage of HIV are known as the acute infection stage. In this stage, the virus grows rapidly. The immune system produces antibodies that help in fighting against HIV viruses. During the early stage, people might not know that they are infected. After about two months, symptoms like flu and fever might show. They might be mild or severe and may last for up to several weeks. Some common symptoms are listed as under:
- Sore Throat
- Upset stomach
- Skin rash, etc.
During this time, the viral load is quite high, and people can get infected when coming in contact with an infected person. After the initial HIV stage, persons enter the chronic stage, which requires several years of treatment.
Main Symptoms of HIV
The clinical latency stage is the second stage where a person starts showing some definite kinds of symptoms. Some symptoms during this stage are listed as under:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Headaches and other pains
- Skin rashes
- Weight Loss, etc.
However, it is impossible to tell whether a person has HIV unless he gets himself tested. If anyone faces any of these symptoms, then they should visit a doctor sooner. HIV symptoms may come and go, and HIV might not get transferred to AIDS if the proper medication was given during the early stage.
Can rash be considered a symptom of HIV?
Almost 90% of people in India get rashes, and the rash is also an early symptom of HIV. HIV rashes appear in multiples, and they are red lesions and are flat and raised. HIV increases the chances of skin problems as the immune system is destroyed from the inside. Some infections that cause a rash are:
- Herpes simplex
- Molluscum Contagiosum
The rash caused by medication
Sometimes rashes are also caused by medication. These types of rashes tend to usually go away in about two weeks. Rash allergy caused by medication can be serious. Other types of allergic infections can be trouble breathing, dizziness, fever, etc. A blistering rash appears quickly on the skin, and it spreads suddenly. If 30% of the skin is affected, then its called toxic epidermal necrolysis, which is life-threatening. Immediate medical attention is required at this time.
HIV Symptoms in Men
HIV symptoms vary from person and person, and they keep on coming and going. If a person is being exposed to HIV, then they might have other kinds of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Some include gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, etc. Men may experience symptoms more than women. They may experience pain in their genitals if infected with HIV. One symptom in men is that they have an ulcer in their penis if they have HIV.
HIV Symptoms in Women
Most symptoms in men and women are similar. Women are less likely to see changes like spots in their genital parts. Women with increased HIV may be at risk of:
- Vaginal yeast infections
- Changes in the menstrual system
- Pelvic Inflammatory disease
- Cervical cancer
Another risk is that HIV can be transmitted to a child during pregnancy from mothers. Antiretroviral therapy is safe for both mothers and children at the time of pregnancy. Women who are treated with this therapy are at low risk of transferring HIV. The virus can also be transmitted from breast milk during breastfeeding. Milk bottles or pasteurized banked human milk can be used for the same.
Possible prevention methods
Although scientists are working to make HIV a curable disease but till now, there has been no vaccination available for the same. However, certain steps can be taken to prevent it.
- Safe sex: HIV spread through vaginal or anal sex without the use of a condom. This risk cannot be eliminated, but the risk can be reduced. A person can do the following
- Get himself tested for HIV: It is really important to test for HIV for a healthy living of himself and his partner.
- Get tested for STIs: If this test shows positive, then it becomes imperative to get checked as STIs can lead to HIV in the later stage
- Use of condoms: Condoms should be used correctly. The pre semi fluids that come out before ejaculation mostly contain HIV. So, condoms should be used in both vaginal or anal sex, whichever is practiced
- Keep contact with one partner: Sexual relationships should be kept with only one partner. In this way, the risk of HIV reduces, as you will know, in the beginning, only if your partner is suffering from HI
- Take medications properly: Proper medications always reduces the risk of HIV to a great extent
- Sharing of needles should be avoided: HIV can spread through blood, and so, used needles should not be used at any cost.
By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can control HIV, and it will not get the chance to become AIDS. Exercise daily and get plenty of rest. Emotional health should also be focused, as this also plays a major role. Alcohol, smoking, drug use, etc. should be reduced as the blood cells get affected by these kinds of attractions. HIV can be kept in control, and knowledge about the causes and symptoms helps one to know about the danger level at an early stage.