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HIV

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Introduction

HIV and AIDS

HIV has become a global health emergency at present globally and has affected all regions of the world irrespective of gender, age, region, culture and nationality causing millions of deaths and sufferings. Access to prevention, modes of treatment at different stages available these days has changed the scenario at globe level.

The immune system of our body protect us by recognizing the invading pathogens (bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites) and gives the instant reaction to those pathogens and thus prevent us from falling ill. The cells of immune system that play part in regulation and destruction of antigens ate T lymphocytes. When HIV is in the circulatory system, it targets CD4+ lymphocytes.

HIV 1 Primary Infection (Clinical Stage 1)

When the infection HIV infection first enters the body, it is known as Primary Infection (HIV 1). In Primary Infection (HIV 1) a person carries high viral load meaning there are numerous viruses per millimeter of plasma or blood present that can exceed over 1 million in number. The signs and symptoms at this stage are known as SERCONVERSION ILLNESS and these include headache, sore throat, continuous diarrhea, vomiting, night seats, and weight loss and skin rashes. The average time of this SEROCONVERSION ILLNESS is around 25 days. During Primary Infection (HIV 1) the CD4 count decreases and can drop less to than 200 cells/µL. CD4+ cells in the lymph nodes and thymus are attacked by this HIV virus making infected (HIV person) vulnerable to opportunistic infections and decreases the ability of thymus to produce T lymphocytes.

(Clinical Stage 2)

HIV infected people may appear to be healthy for years and after ages signs and symptoms begin to appear. Such cases may develop candidiasis, lymphadenopathy, herpes zoster, peripheral neuropathy. The viral load increases and the CD4+ cells decrease in level. Patients in such conditions are assigned in Stage 2. These cases can be assigned to Stage 3 or 4 if a condition from one of those occurs, but they cannot be reassigned to clinical stage 1 or 2 in case if they become asymptomatic.

(Clinical Stage 3)

In Clinical Stage 3 the immune system of patients Weakens more and develop life threatening infections. Common infections in this stage include pulmonary and lysmph node tuberculosis, persistant fever, candidiasis, recurrent bacterial pneumonia and other opportunistic infections. Weight loss is the general indication of this stage. Viral load continues to increase and decrease in CD4+ cells continues.

(Clinical Stage 4)

Patients of Stage 4 (advanced HIV or AIDS) continue to develop severe opportunistic infections like pneumocystis pneumonia , cytomegalovirus infections, tuberculosis, meningitis, leukoencephalopathy, Kaposi sarcoma and other infections that occur in patients with severly depressed immune system. The viral load is very high and CD4+ count falls to lowest levels. At this stage death can be imminent.

Causes

Causes of HIV

The major cause of HIV infection are sexual intercourse (unprotected) with anonymous partner, sex worker, at massage parlors, homosexuals, bisexuals and blood transfusion.

Sexual Intercourse

HIV can be found in the body fluids of infected person. It can get transferred from an infected person to healthy person through semen and vaginal fluid during sexual intercourse (unprotected sex, oral sex, anal sex).

Blood

  • HIV can pass from one person to another through blood transfusion. If blood is not tested before transfusion, the transfer of infected blood to another person can make him/her HIV positive.
  • HIV can be transferred from one person to another even through small amounts of blood contamination like a cut during razor at salon, needle pricks during intake of drugs, sharing of needles, any instrument injury during any surgical procedure, the health professionals can get infected while treating HIV patients.
  • Handling of blood without gloves can also lead to the HIV infection.
  • Contamination of blood during any accident if skin wounds or cuts are exposed can also lead to HIV infection.

SIGNS and SYMPTOMS

Within a month or two after getting infected with HIV, many people (but not all) can develop flu like symptoms (SEROCONVERSION ILLNESS) like skin rashes, cold, continuous fever, swollen gums, night sweating, and severe headache. These symptoms usually go within a week and are mistaken for flu or other common infections. A person can look and feel healthy for years before the symptoms come back. This period when an infected person looks and feels well can last for 5-7 years and may be more in case of adults. In the meantime, as the HIV keeps attacking the immune system, more and more symptoms can be noticed and illness starts to show again.

It takes from few months to years to feel sick and have symptoms of HIV. So, the sooner one is tested, the better.

Later Signs of Aids

When a person is already affected by AIDS, such persons can also develop other problems like tuberculosis, bad cough, pneumonia, continuous headache, body ache, weakness, diarrhea, seizures, loss of memory, abnormal weight loss, loss of concentration, lymph node and throat swelling thus difficulty in swallowing.

Diagnosis and Testing

The only way to find out whether you are living with HIV is to have a test.

When should one go for HIV test?

One should go for HIV test as soon as possible (immediate basis) to prevent from becoming HIV positive and avoid the spread too.

Why should one go for HIV testing?

First of all, testing is the only way to find out whether one is HIV infected or not. So this relieves the stress in cases when tests are negative and in case of positive results, prevention and medication can be started to prevent the further spread and protect the body by providing support system through medication.

If one is exposed to HIV infection, person should approach an HIV consultant on immediate basis to get the treatment started so as to prevent from becoming HIV positive (PEP TREATMENT) and prevent your life from fatal effects of HIV and AIDS.

Through medication in cases of within 72 hours of possible exposure, the PEP treatment can be started and one can be protected from the deadly effects of HIV and AIDS by protecting the body from becoming HIV positive.

Through medication in cases of patients who are already diagnosed or the tests show HIV positive results, medication can protect the body from ill effects of AIDS and a normal life can be lead by proving supplements to protect the complete collapse of immune system and life span can be increased.

What all comes under testing?

In testing, blood sample is collected and then the sample is send for laboratory investigations. Few investigations come in a day or two and the other reports take around a week’s time.

What about confidentiality?

The test result is confidential. No one including doctor, health workers has the right to disclose the details to anyone except the concerned person. And it is your decision whether you want to go for the test or not. No one can force you for the same.

Preventive Measures

Tips to Prevent the Spread of HIV-

  • Sex with protection (condom)
  • No multiple partners (sex partners)
  • Avoid intercourse with sex workers especially unprotected.
  • Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse at massage parlors.
  • Avoid intercourse with anonymous that too without protection.
  • Avoid bisexual activities.
  • Stay in a healthy and faithful relationship with your partner.

MYTHS and FACTS

A myth is untrue or false information. It’s truly said HALF KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS!!

A fact is the real, true information about any topic.

MYTH- HIV/AIDS can be cured

FACT- There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Treatments are available to improvise the status of patient but those treatments do not cure the disease itself.

MYTH- Women who are HIV positive cannot/ should not have babies.

FACT- Women who are HIV positive can have babies and not every baby born in such cases is HIV infected. Care has to be taken during delivery and avoid breast feeding. Being under the supervision of doctor and following the protocols can prevent from delivering baby with HIV positive.

MYTH- if both the partners are HIV positive, unprotected sexual intercourse is okay.

FACT- different people have different strains of HIV that can result in superinfection. It is important to have protected sex to prevent the superinfections.

MYTH- I cannot get HIV because I am not a gay, or a drug user, or I do not have multiple partners.

FACT- HIV can attack any person irrespective age, gender, religion, culture, nationality, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

MYTH- One can get HIV by touching an HIV person.

FACT- One cannot get HIV from an HIV infected person by holding hands, touching or by hug. Until and unless one comes in contact with the body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk of an HIV infected person, no chances of HIV infection is there.

MYTH- HIV medications (antiretroviral drugs) are the complete cure for HIV/ AIDS.

FACT- There is no cure for HIV positive patients/ AIDS. HIV medication (antiretroviral drugs) they slow down the process of disease by limiting the spread of virus in the body. Despite of the fact that there is no cure for HIV, one can lead a healthy life by taking antiretroviral drugs to manage the virus load and its effect and balance your mental and emotional status and keep yourself physically fit.

MYTH- We should not teach/ discuss about HIV/ AIDS with children.

FACT- It is our duty to aware children about each and every aspect of life or subject that can influence one’s life today or tomorrow if unawre about the fatal effects of the same. Providing true, real status about the subject, we can prevent our children from not getting influenced to such subjects in life.

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