HIV- Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a deadly virus which reproduces itself inside the body of the host. This virus damages the immune system of the host completely. The body of the infected person is no longer able to fight infections and other diseases. The damaged immune system makes the human body more prone to many diseases. HIV attacks the immune system by destroying CD4 positive (CD4+) T cells, a type of white blood cell which is required to fight infection. The destruction of these cells makes the infected person more vulnerable to infections, diseases, and other complications.
AIDS- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease which develops in a person suffering from HIV. The advanced stage of HIV leads to the development of AIDS. It is the final stage of HIV infection when the infected person has one or more opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, and has a dangerously low number of CD4+ T cells (less than 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood).
Also read: Myths and Facts about HIV & AIDS
Symptoms of HIV can be easily confused with other diseases. But if you experience most of these symptoms then you must consider visiting your doctor.
In the initial stages of HIV infection, there are very minor symptoms. After a month or two the infected person may experience the following symptoms:
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and groin area
These symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for another viral infection, such as flu. However, during this period people are highly infectious because HIV is present in large quantities in the blood of the infected person. Some people infected with HIV may experience more severe symptoms initially or a longer duration of clinical symptoms, while others may remain symptom-free for 10 years or more.
During the late stages of HIV infection, the virus severely weakens the immune system, and people infected with the virus may experience the following symptoms:
- Rapid weight loss
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- Recurring fever
- Extreme and unexplained fatigue
- Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
- Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
- Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
- Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders
Currently, there is no cure or particular vaccine for HIV. But there are certain steps that one can take to prevent the infection from entering into the body.
- Get yourself tested regularly for HIV
- If you are planning to have a baby then make sure that both the partners are tested for HIV before and during pregnancy
- Make sure that you use new needle while using intravenous drugs
- Pregnant women must get checked for HIV and if they discover positive results then take every measure to protect baby from the deadly virus. This can be done by taking antiretroviral drug and opting for C-section delivery. It will protect your baby from any possibility of getting the infection
- Take prescribed antiviral medications to reduce the chance of transferring HIV infected blood to the baby
Continuous attempts are made to create a vaccination for HIV. But there is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection till today. Only prevention methods can help reduce the spread of the infection.
Antiretroviral medicines can reduce the level of HIV virus present in the body. Furthermore, it also helps to slow the destruction of the immune system by preserving CD4+ T cells.
Read more articles on AIDS.
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