HIV and AIDS: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

hiv aids

AIDS is a chronic syndrome which is caused by a particular virus HIV. This disease can result into life threatening circumstances.

This virus basically attacks your immune system, which protects your body against infections and other viruses. Thus  it imposes you at higher risk of developing infections and diseases.

What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that can kill certain immune cells, also called T-cells, in your body if left untreated.

What is the meaning of HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus which kills the CD4 cells, a type of immune cells, over time. Its makes the body more prone to diseases and infections like typhoidfever and cancer etc as it can no longer fight infection.

what is hiv

 

HIV Transmission

This virus can travel through the following mediums including,

  • Blood transfusion
  • Semen
  • Breast milk
  • Fluids in vagina and rectum
  • Sharing needles

However, the virus does not spread through air, water or general contact with skin.

According to UNAIDS statistics for 2019, approximately 38 million people in the world have HIV. 1.7 million people were newly added in the span of one year in 2019.

It is estimated that 14% people living with HIV do not have the idea that they have contracted it.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the disease which can develop in the people with HIV. But it does not mean that every person with this virus acquires AIDS.

What does AIDS mean?

It stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome resulting from the immunodeficiency virus.

 

aids ribbonA healthy human body contains 500 to 1600 CD4 cells per cubic millimetre. Moreover, these cells provide immunity against diseases.

The immunodeficiency virus attacks the CD4 cells and a person is diagnosed with AIDS if their CD4 cells fall below 200 per cubic millimetre.

You can have AIDS, if you develop an opportunist infection like pneumonia and have the immunodeficiency virus.

Connection Between HIV and AIDS

In order to have AIDS, you must contract HIV but acquiring HIV doesn’t inevitably require having AIDS prior to it.

The progression of HIV is through following stages,

  • 1-Stage: Acute stage, few weeks after acquiring virus
  • 2-Stage: Chronic stage
  • 3-Stage: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

 

hiv and aids connectionThe progression of the virus into AIDS highly varies from one person to another. HIV can last for even a decade before progressing towards AIDS.

However, it can last indefinitely with proper treatment and management.

Early Symptoms of HIV

A first few weeks after contraction of the immunodeficiency virus comprise of acute phase.

The virus replicates at a faster pace in this stage and the immune system responds by producing antibodies against it.

Some people do not experience any symptoms of the virus until one month and if they develop the symptoms, they are not sure that these are actually HIV symptoms.

The acute phase symptoms can be very much like normal influenza or related HIV infection. The symptoms may be,

  • Mild to moderate or severe symptoms
  • Might appear and disappear in off and on fashion
  • For may be one day or several weeks

Early symptoms include the following,

  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Body pains
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen and painful lymph nodes
  • Nausea

 

As these symptoms are quite similar to normal infections, therefore you don’t think about acquiring the immunodeficiency virus at first.

The early symptoms related to it generally resolve within few months and after that the virus enters the chronic stage. Thus, it may prevail for many years and even decades with proper management.

HIV Symptoms (Signs of HIV)

The actual symptoms related to the HIV are related to the symptoms in its chronic stage which may last up to decades.

Some people might won’t show any symptoms whereas some may show a few or minimal symptoms. Moreover, minimal symptoms are those which are not related to any specific illness.

 

symptomsThe symptoms that are considered non-specific include,

  • Headaches and body pains
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Recurring fever
  • Weight loss
  • Hives and skin rashes
  • Pneumonia
  • Diarrhea
  • Repetitive oral and vaginal infections
  • Palpitations

Click here to learn more about non-specific symptoms

HIV can still be transmitted to the other people during this time of early or no symptoms.

The person gets to know if they have HIV or not only after testing. Therefore, you should consider getting yourself tested, if you have symptoms and you think that you have been in any situation with exposure to virus.

However, the progression of the virus can be reduced with proper medical treatment, though transmitting HIV is still possible.

HIV Rash

Is rash a normal symptom related to immunodeficiency virus?

Many people with this virus show symptoms of skin reactions and rashes are often the first among signs of HIV.

The rashes include small red patches, often flat or raised. It is so because of the fact that the virus attacks the immune cells that fight against such skin infections.

Therefore, skin infections are very common in people with this virus.The infection can complicate and result in more severe forms of skin diseases like herpes and shingles.

While rash can be a consequence of the virus but it can also result from intake of certain medications for HIV itself.

Generally, the rash appears after one or two weeks of taking HIV medicine. They make eventually fade away on its own but if it does not disappear you can consider changing your medicines.

AIDS Symptoms

AIDS results from the untreated HIV resulting in damaged immune system.

If HIV is timely diagnosed and treated, you might never acquire AIDS.

People are at high risk of developing AIDS if the HIV is not diagnosed on time or if they are diagnosed and they don’t take their treatment frequently.

Symptoms of AIDS include,

  • Repeated fever
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Dark spots under skin in eyes, mouth and nose
  • Rashes, blisters or sores in mouth, genitals or rectal area
  • Sudden extreme weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems in concentration, memory loss
  • Chronic swollen nodes

Causes of HIV

This virus is a mutation of the one that was transferable in African Chimpanzees.

According to the scientists, the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) transmitted to humans when they started eating the chimps meat infected with the virus.

Once the virus travelled to the human body, it mutated to its current version HIV. According to the scientific research this all occurred around 1920s.

Hence, over the years the virus travelled around the world, along with the human carrying them.

The virus has been reported in America in 1970s but it was noticeable by the public until 1980s.

Causes of AIDS

AIDS is caused by the immunodeficiency virus. The person not having this virus will not contract AIDS.

Lack of treatment of HIV results in multiplication of the virus and increased damage to the immune system.

If the damage causes your number of CD4 cells to drop below 200, then you are diagnosed with AIDS.

Moreover, if you develop the severe symptoms related to this virus then your chances of getting AIDS increase even if you r CD4 count is above 200.

Diagnosis of HIV

The early diagnosis of HIV can be very helpful in controlling the damage to your immune system.

Early intervention can remarkably increase the life expectancy and improve overall health.

HIV Test

There is a wide range of tests for its diagnosis. However, the medical professional recommends it as he knows which test is best for you.

 

diagnostic testsThese tests include,

1. Antigen test

This test is most commonly used for this virus. Moreover, it can indicate the positive results after 18 to 45 days of getting the infection from virus.

2. Antibody test

This test only studies the blood for antibodies. Therefore, it show positive results after 23 to 90 days of acquiring infection.

Your immune system develops the antibodies to fight with the virus and these are detectable in your blood or saliva.

Some of these tests require medical staff to perform them. Whereas there are some which can be easily done at home. These include,

3. Nucleic Acid Test (NAT)

This is an expensive test and it is only used in early symptoms or known HIV risk factor, to indicate the virus itself rather than antibodies.

It takes arount 5 to 21 days to show the results of this test.

Treatment

Treatment is preferably started as soon as you are detected with the virus regardless of its load and severity.

HIV Cure

A person lives with this conditions lifelong as this virus inserts itself into DNA and make permanent changes. Therefore, there are no current ultimate treatment options available that remove the virus completely.

But it is manageable through early treatment via therapy and increases the lifespan to the normal age limi of a healthy adult.

HIV Treatment

Majorly the treatment for immunodeficiency virus includes antiretroviral therapy which includes medicinal combination to stop the further replication of virus.

It decreases the harm caused to the immune cells and help strengthening the immune system to fight against the disease.

It also helps in reducing the risk for its spread to others.

An effective HIV treatment shows the virus as non detectable but the person still has the virus.

Therefore, leaving the this therapy, would result in increase in the virus in your body again and result in death of immune cells.

hiv pills

Treatment Plan

The doctors often recommend taking two or three medicines at the same time in order to stop the virus from building resistance against the medicines.

The treatment plan in generally given by the doctor according to your overall health and life situation.

Therefore, following the doctor’s directions is important to fight against the virus and improve your condition.

HIV Vaccine

Despite many researches on this virus, there is no vaccines for its prevention and treatment right now.

However, testing is still going on but none is approved for general use till now.

 

Hope you have got answers to all your questions related to HIV and AIDS.

Leave feedback and suggestions in the comments section below and let me know which part proved to be the most useful for you.

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