Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV) – Information
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a progressive condition in which your body’s immune system is gradually degraded, leading to varied opportunistic infections. You can contract the virus through various means including through blood, semen, vaginal and other body fluids. However, the most common methods of transmission are
- Unprotected sex with an infected person
- Using contaminated needles
- Blood Transfusion
- Breast milk (infected mother to baby)
According to World Health Organization (WHO), HIV infection is pandemic. In fact, some countries in the world have declared HIV/AIDS national disaster, in effect attracting huge financial resources and allocating their own resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The HIV virus is classified in two classes. HIV-1 is the first virus to have been discovered. It is the most lethal type of the virus. It is not only virulent but very infective as well. Hiv-1 is the type of HIV virus that is common all over the world. HIV-2 is not as infective as HIV-1. Its transmission is relatively minimal compared to HIV-1. It is not widely spread and is mostly found in the Western part of African continent. In either case, the virus infects the most important cells in your body, killing them. In particular, it attacks your body’s helper T cells. Once the level of your helper T cells decline, you lose your body’s cell-mediated immunity, exposing you to varied opportunistic infections.
As the virus continues to kill more of your cells, you eventually develop AIDS. Such development is determined by various factors including the level of HIV in your body, your own body’s health condition, your diet and other environmental factors. The development from HIV status to full-blown AIDS can take up to 10 years, a period in which you will otherwise be looking healthy. No cure for HIV/AIDS is currently available and the treatment medications available in form of antiretrovirals are for management of the condition for longer life. You cannot die from HIV/AIDS but rather from opportunistic infections. One particular infection that is closely associated with HIV/AIDS is Tuberculosis and the recent revelation that there is another strain of resistant Tuberculosis (to treatment medications) is certainly a big worry to health authorities worldwide.
Early Symtpoms of HIV
Once infected by HIV, rapid viral replication occurs, leading to an increase of HIV particles in your blood, which can be as high as one million HIV particles per every milliliter of blood. As your body’s immune system tries to fight the virus, you are bound to notice or experience several symptoms. The first symptom you are likely to experience is
- Influenza, which is characterized by fever
- Rashes on your skin
- Sores in your mouth and throat
- Mild headache
- Vomiting, at times
Because the virus replicates rapidly, you are bound to experience these first symptoms between 2-4 weeks of infection. There is always the danger that your doctor may associate these symptoms with other common ailments and prescribe wrong medications. This gives the virus time to replicate further and develop into AIDS.
Effects of HIV
Your situation can become complicated if you have a strong immune system. This is because your system will naturally fight the virus and reduce the level of HIV particles in your blood. Instead of the virus fighting your system, it hibernates in your lymph nodes. You are bound to have swollen nymph nodes as the viral particles pile up. You are also bound to experience tiredness even without undertaking any task. During this time, the virus replicates very rapidly, a process that is bound to lead to rapid weakening of your immune system. You are bound to start experiencing weight loss.
Because both you and your doctor are bound to ignore the early symptoms of HIV, the virus easily overwhelms you, slowing you down and making a fertile ground for opportunistic infections. Note that HIV can easily be tackled at the initial stage before it damages your most of your cells. Many people in fact have the virus and because the first symptoms fade away after some time, they continue to infect others without knowing. It is therefore very important that you go for HIV test to ascertain your HIV status and stay safe.