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Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Prevention, Screening, and All You Should Know

Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Prevention, Screening, and All You Should Know

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), is among the biggest threats to public health worldwide. According to reports, in 2022, there were about 39 million HIV-positive individuals in the world. However, there is a global commitment to halting the spread of HIV and ensuring that all HIV-positive individuals have access to right and timely treatment. 

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) damages the immune system cells, making it more difficult for your body to fight off other illnesses. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) can result from HIV infection if it has significantly compromised your immune system. The last and most dangerous stage of HIV infection is AIDS.

At present, there is no effective cure for AIDS. People who contract HIV are infected for the rest of their lives. However, with proper medical care, HIV can be managed. People with HIV who receive effective treatment at the right time may lead a long life in good health while also safeguarding their partners from getting this infection.

Knowing how HIV spreads and taking precautions when engaging in certain activities are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting the virus. The following article will throw light on the important details regarding human immunodeficiency virus that everyone must know.

What is Human Immunodeficiency Virus?

Human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that compromises immune function of the body. If left untreated, it damages and eventually kills CD4 cells, a subset of T cells that are immune cells. It causes the body to lose more CD4 cells over the time, increasing the risk of developing cancer and other illnesses. 

Fortunately medical care, involving timely antiretroviral therapy, allows one to manage HIV and survive with the virus for an extended period of time. Moreover, various researchers are trying to discover effective treatments that can completely eradicate HIV from the body. 

Symptoms of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

HIV can be in your system even if you show no symptoms. For this reason, even if you don't feel ill, it's still crucial to get tested. Sometimes, when you first contract HIV, you may experience flu-like symptoms. Following are the common HIV symptoms in women and men:

Causes of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

HIV gets transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk from an infected person to non-infected one. Sexual contact, sharing needles, injecting illegal drugs, and coming into contact with HIV infected blood are the ways by which it spreads. Additionally, it can transfer from pregnant mother to baby. It may also spread from an infected mother to the baby while delivering the baby or nursing. It does not spread by casual contacts, the air, or the water.

Sequelae of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

HIV causes long-term illness because it infiltrates the cells and damages the DNA. An individual with HIV has a high risk of developing the dangerous illness known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, if they do not receive timely treatment. The immune system is then too compromised to effectively fight off infections, illnesses, and other ailments. End-stage AIDS patients have a three-year life expectancy if left untreated. With antiretroviral therapy, a person's life expectancy can nearly be similar to that of someone who has not been infected with this virus. 

Preventive Measures for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

  • These are certain preventive measures that can help in reducing the risk of getting exposed to HIV:
  • Use latex condoms for all forms of sex, including oral, anal, and vaginal.
  • Condoms made of animal products (such as lambskin) should not be used.
  • Apply water-based lubricants prior to sexual activity.
  • Receive testing and treatment for other STIs. You may be more vulnerable to contracting HIV if you have other STIs.
  • Don't share needles when taking drugs.
  • Ask your doctor if pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is appropriate if you are at high risk of HIV exposure.
  • Get in touch with your doctor right away if you believe you may have been exposed to HIV to find out if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is necessary.
  • Get tested to find out if you can infect others with HIV.
  • Refrain from getting drunk or intoxicated before doing sexual activity. People who are drunk may be less likely to defend themselves.
  • To ensure protection from HIV, it's critical to use a condom properly. When engaging in any penile sex act, always wear a condom.
  • Additionally, you can use internal condoms or dental dams to protect the anus or vagina.

Screening for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection

Screening tests can pave paths to halt the spread, early detection, timely treatment, and a longer life in infected individuals who are unaware of the fact they have been infected with the HIV virus. To determine whether you have HIV infection, you can take an HIV screening test. To find out if you were infected with HIV, it can be done as part of a routine examination or following a potential exposure. 

If HIV is discovered early, you can take medication to safeguard your health and prevent the development of AIDS. Additionally, medications can help you stop HIV from infecting others. As part of standard medical care, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises all individuals between the ages of 13 and 64 to get tested for HIV at least once.

Conclusion

Since the AIDS epidemic's peak, treatments have advanced significantly. If you can begin and maintain treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as possible, your chances of living a long life are better. These days, people with HIV can work, pursue happy relationships, lead active social lives, and raise families. You can get in touch with a local HIV-focused organization if you're uncomfortable being tested, receiving treatment, or simply unsure of what to do next.

Remind yourself that you deserve love, care, and finest medical attention. Get expert medical advice on human immunodeficiency virus infection now.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Can someone with HIV lead a normal life?

A: According to studies, individuals with HIV can now anticipate living almost normal lives provided their treatment is initiated at an early age and taken as directed each day.

Q2: What happens if I have HIV?

A: You should see a healthcare provider for follow-up testing if you test positive for HIV in a community programme or on self-testing A follow-up test will be performed, generally with the same blood sample. Then your treatment will be started.

Q3: How can you determine if you are HIV positive or negative?

A: Testing is the only way to determine if you have HIV. HIV cannot be diagnosed based solely on symptoms. Having knowledge of your HIV status provides you with valuable information to help you maintain the health of both you and your partner(s). You can start taking HIV medication if your test results are positive.
 

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