In general, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infectious disease that causes the weakening of the body’s immune system response, which potentiates the risk of getting acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). When HIV is left untreated, the individual may develop AIDS, which is a deadly disease that cannot be cured. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV.
HIV destroys the cells of the body that are responsible for protecting it from the attack of infectious viruses and bacteria. It damages the body’s ability to fight diseases, making it prone to diseases like tuberculosis, infections, and some cancers. Unfortunately, it is incurable, which means individuals have to suffer due to it throughout their lifetime. HIV-positive individuals can live long and healthy lives by getting appropriate treatment. Proper treatment will reduce the risk to a great extent, which will ensure the safety of their partner too.
Factors that increase the risk of HIV
When a person gets infected with HIV, their immune system weakens. Their risk of getting affected by life-threatening diseases increases. Moreover, It is necessary to safeguard yourself from this deadly disease by taking safety measures. To prevent such risk, it is necessary to become aware of the factors that lead to HIV infection, those factors are as follows:
- Having sex with multiple partners potentiates the risk of HIV. In such cases, it is necessary to use protection during vaginal or anal sex. Always use a condom every time you engage in sexual activity with multiple partners, it will reduce the risk of spreading this deadly infection.
- If one of the partners is HIV positive and not getting treatment for the same, then it is highly likely they will transfer this infection to their sexual partners after having unprotected sex.
- Reusing or sharing contaminated needles or syringes potentiates the risk of HIV.
- Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Symptoms that indicate HIV
In the initial stages of contracting HIV, the symptoms are no different from common flu or viral infections. They include:
Stages of HIV
According to the National Institutes of Health (.gov), the disease has three stages, which are as follows:
The acute stage is the initial stage of infection. This stage develops within 2 to 4 weeks after getting infected with HIV. The level of HIV in the blood is too high during the acute stage, which increases the risk of HIV transmission. The individual may experience some common symptoms of the flu, such as headache, fever, and rash.
During this stage of infection, the individual may not show any signs or symptoms, while the virus continues to multiply slowly. This stage might remain for years. The duration of this stage differs for every individual. Some might get to the advanced stage too quickly, while some may take longer. Treatment will help in slowing down the virus from getting to the advanced stage.
As the infection advances, it arrives at the final stage, which is AIDS. This is the most severe stage of HIV, which leads to fatal consequences. The body loses its ability to fight off infections, as AIDS damages the immune system completely. During this stage, the individual can transmit the disease to others very easily. It requires proper treatment; without it, the individual may not survive for more than 3 years.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the transmission of HIV can happen due to the exchange of body fluids, which can be semen, vaginal secretion, rectal fluids, blood, and breast milk. Note that HIV does not spread through kissing, shaking hands, hugging, or sharing food, drinks, or objects. However, an HIV-positive mother may transmit the disease to her child during pregnancy or while delivery.
HIV treatments are necessary which will help in preventing the progression of the disease and also avoid its transmission to the partner. Moreover, It will help in managing the condition effectively, which will allow the infected individual to live a normal life.
Moreover, HIV diagnosis can be done through a qualified and certified healthcare professional. The diagnostic tests can obtain results on the same day. The test analyses the immune system performance by detecting the antibodies’ action. One-time tests might not obtain correct results, multiple tests need to be done to confirm the presence of the virus. Proper diagnosis will help in starting the treatment at the right time before the disease progresses and causes significant damage.
Screening tests will reveal the presence of the virus in the body. The healthcare professional will collect a sample of blood or some other fluids. They will check for antibodies for HIV. If the test turns out to be positive, then a follow-up test will be done to confirm the presence of HIV.
Ways to reduce the risk of getting HIV
- Avoid risky sexual behaviors – Always use protection (condoms) in case of having multiple sexual partners.
- Avoid having multiple sexual partners – This can increase your chances of developing sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which increase the risk of HIV.
- Get diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
- Never share your medical equipment such as injections, needles, water, etc. with others.
- Get tested – Before you and your partner participate in sexual activity, talk to them about getting both HIV tested. This will reduce the risk of viral transmission.