HIV is a sexually transmitted infection that can spread through infected blood, sharing needles, and illegal drug use. It can also be spread vertically during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childbirth from the mother to child. Without medications, it takes years for HIV to weaken the immune system to an extent that you have AIDS. HIV/AIDS has no cure. However, medications can be used to control infection and prevent the progression of the disease.
Antiviral treatments for HIV have resulted in a decrease in deaths due to AIDS around the world and international organisations are working to increase the preventive measures and treatment in countries that are poor in resources.
The symptoms of AIDS depend on the phase of the infection the patient is going through.
Some patients who have been affected by AIDS go through a flu-like illness within 2-4 weeks after the entry of the virus into the body. It is called acute or primary infection and lasts for a few weeks. The possible signs and symptoms of the infection in this phase include fever, muscle aches and joint pain, headache, rash, swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck, painful mouth sores and sore throat, diarrhoea, cough, weight loss, and night sweats.
These symptoms are sometimes so mild that you might not even notice them. However, the amount of virus your bloodstream has might be quite time even with these mild symptoms. Therefore, the infection tends to spread quite easily during this stage than during the next stage.
During this stage, the virus is still present in the white blood cells of the body but many people are asymptomatic at this stage. It can last for many years if you are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). Some patients may develop a more severe disease much sooner than this.
As the virus keeps on multiplying and the immune cells (the cells in the body that keep off infections) keep on getting destroyed, you may develop mild infections and chronic symptoms like fatigue, fever, swollen lymph nodes - often one of the first signs of HIV infection, weight loss, diarrhoea, shingles, oral yeast infection, and pneumonia.
The advent of better and more efficient antiviral treatments has decreased the deaths due to AIDS worldwide dramatically, even in developing countries. Because of these life-saving treatments, most people with HIV don’t develop AIDS. If left untreated, HIV typically develops into AIDS in a matter of 8-10 years.
Your immune system is severely debilitated when AIDS occurs. You will be more susceptible to developing diseases that usually wouldn’t cause illness in a normal person with a healthy immune system. These infections are referred to as opportunistic infections. The possible signs and symptoms of these infections may include chills, sweats, chronic diarrhoea, recurring fever, swollen lymph nodes, persistent, unexplained fatigue, persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth, weight loss, weakness, skin rashes or bumps, and weight loss.
If you think you have HIV infection or are at a high risk of developing the infection, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. If you are located in Indore, you can visit the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore and book an appointment with an expert who will guide you to the next step.
HIV infection is caused by a virus and it can spread via illicit injection drug use, sexual contact with an infected person, sharing needs, contact with infected blood, or from mother to the baby during childbirth, pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
HIV virus damages the CD4 T cells - the white blood cells that play an important role in helping the body fight germs and infections. The fewer the number of CD4 T cells your body has, the weaker your immune system is.
You can be infected with HIV and have very few or no symptoms for years before it develops into AIDS. AIDS occurs when the CD4 cell count drops below 200 or if you have an AIDS-defining complication like a serious infection or cancer.
HIV infection spreads via infected blood, vaginal secretions, and semen. This can occur in different ways such as:
You can’t be exposed to the virus via ordinary contact, which means that you can’t develop AIDS by kissing, hugging, dancing, or shaking hands with an infected person. Also, HIV isn’t spread via water, air, or insect bites.
Any person of any race, age, or sexual orientation can develop HIV infection. However, the risk is higher if:
The HIV virus weakens a person’s immune system, making him more susceptible to developing infections and certain types of cancers.
Infections common to HIV/AIDS
No vaccine is yet available for the prevention of HIV infection and no definitive cure is currently available. However, you can take certain steps to protect yourself and others from the infection.
HIV can be diagnosed via saliva or blood testing. Following are the tests available:
Discuss with your doctor regarding which HIV test is the right one for you. If any of these tests show negative results, you may still require a follow-up test weeks to months after to confirm the results.
If you have been diagnosed as having HIV, consult HIV specialists in Indore for further treatment. They will help:
Your doctor might also order some laboratory investigations to check for other complications or infections, including:
Receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness like AIDS can be devastating. The social, emotional and financial consequences of a disease like HIV/AIDS can make coping with this illness especially challenging - not only for you but also for your family members. Consult specialists at our HIV Clinic in Indore for the best possible treatment.