The human immunodeficiency viruses, popularly known as HIV is a virus caused by two species of Lentivirus those damage the immune system. Over the time, the person with HIV develops acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) – the advanced stage of HIV. Untreated AIDS can lead to death of the person within three years. When the HIV is not treated on time, it starts killing the CD4 cells (immune cells also called T cells) in the body. With more CD4 cells getting destructed, the body gets vulnerable to other infections and diseases. The incurable disease can transmit through infected blood, breast milk, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids. The disease does not spread through physical contact, air or water. India aims to eliminate AIDS from India by the year 2024 and as per UNAIDS 2017 data, newer HIV infections have witnessed a sharp decline by 46 % since the year 2010. To develop AIDS, HIV infection is important but having HIV doesn’t necessarily leads to AIDS.
Progress Stage of HIV
Stage 1: Acute stage or week after transmission
Stage 2: Chronic stage
Stage 3: Developing AIDS
Normal CD4 cells count in an adult is around 500 to 1,500 per cubic millimeter, when the CD4 count falls below 200, the person is said to have AIDS.
Causes of HIV
African chimpanzees are said to be the source of HIV infection. It is considered that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) from chimpanzees got transmitted to humans, further the virus mutated into HIV. Coming in contact with the blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids or breast milk of the infected person causes HIV. It can be transmitted through sex, infected needles and syringes of HIV positive person, during pregnancy (from mother to baby) or even through organ transplant.
Symptoms of HIV
During the acute stage of the infection, the virus multiplies rapidly. Towards this, our body starts producing antibodies to fight the virus which might indicate certain signs and symptoms like:
- Swollen Lymph nodes
- Skin rash
- Headache and body pain
- Sore throat
- Nausea and upset stomach
It is tough to detect HIV infection at its early stage as the symptoms are common to those of flu or viral. The symptoms of HIV in males could be different, like they might experience diseases like trichomoniasis., syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Similarly, women might experience recurrent vaginal infections, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or maybe human papillomavirus (HPV).
To diagnose HIV infection the doctor may prescribe you certain blood tests which determine antibodies created by your body to fight the virus. Early screening is crucial towards the treatment of HIV.
Treatment of HIV
Around 25 antiretroviral approved therapies are used towards the treatment of HIV which works by preventing the multiplication and destruction of CD4 cells. They help our body fight the HIV infection and lower the risk and further complication of HIV. The antiretroviral therapy or medications are segregated as six categories known as:
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
- Integrase strand transfer inhibitors
- CCR5 antagonists
- Protease inhibitors
- Fusion inhibitors
Prevention for HIV
- Consider having safer sex. Use protection.
- Both the partners should get tested for HIV/AIDS
- Limit your sexual partners.
- If you have tested HIV positive, take your medications as directed to reduce the risk of transmission to others.
- Consider taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if by any chance you have come in contact with HIV infection to reduce the risk of contraction.
- Do not use used needles for blood tests or tattoos.