Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus that attacks the CD4 cells (a type of white blood cells) in the body’s immune system reducing the body’s ability to fight against infections, illnesses, and diseases.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a variety of symptoms, life-threatening conditions, or syndrome that may develop from a person with HIV who does not receive treatment over time. AIDS can be said to be the third and final stage of an HIV infection. It develops 2 – 15 years after contracting HIV.
Difference Between HIV and AIDS
AIDS can result after having HIV only if HIV is not properly treated. It is not everyone with AIDS that will develop AIDS, but anyone with AIDS must have had HIV first.
In humans, AIDS is not transmitted from one person to another; rather, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is transmitted.
Stages of HIV
There are three stages of HIV, they are
- Acute stage – this is 2-4 weeks after getting the virus.
- Clinical latency stage
- The final stage – it is at this stage that the virus develops into AIDS.
- Use of protection during sex – HIV and other infections can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse. Using condoms can protect one from these infections.
- Taking preventive steps during pregnancy – pregnant women with HIV can have children who are HIV free. Taking medications can help prevent the child from getting infected. Bottle-feeding and caesarean delivery can also reduce the chances of a child contracting the infection from the mother
- Avoid sharing of needle
- Reduction of exposure to body fluids
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – this can be taken regularly to prevent a person from contracting the virus if you are exposed to it.
- Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) – it is an emergency treatment taken within 72 hours of exposure to the virus. The treatment runs for 28 days. PEP can reduce the likelihood of HIV infection by about 95%.
Causes of HIV
HIV is caused by a retrovirus. This retrovirus is called the human immunodeficiency virus- HIV-1. It is present in bodily fluids and can be transmitted through
- A pregnant mother to her child – the virus can be passed during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and childbirth.
- Syringe and use of needles
- Blood transfusion
- Sexual contact – in the UK, this accounts mostly for the means through which the virus is transmitted. It can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sexual intercourse.
It is important for health workers, anyone who deals gives or receives tattoos and any person who deals with needles or injects any medication to take special precaution when handling sharp objects or needles.
The symptoms of HIV vary from one individual to another and also the stage of the infection.
You can get the same-day STD testing in London as soon as you notice any of the following symptoms.
This stage is mostly characterised by flu-like symptoms like
- Mouth ulcers
- Aching muscles
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Night sweat
- Joint pains
Clinical Latency Stage
Usually, there is little or no symptom; the virus is active and causes damage to the immune system. This may take between 2 – 10 years depending on the individual
- Night sweat
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Sores in the anus, genitals or mouth
- Neurological issues
- Blurred visions
- Blotches under the skin
Diagnosis of HIV
Early diagnosis of HIV can prevent the further deterioration of an infected person to AIDS and help the person live a normal life. Some HIV tests need to be repeated between one to three months after exposure to the virus. STD testing can also diagnose the presence of HIV. You can ask your doctor how to test for STDs in women and men.
There are different types of HIV test
- Home sampling kit
- Point of care test
- Homer testing kit
- Blood test.
Most of the diagnoses are STD testing near me same day, so you don’t have to wait for a long period to get your result.
Diagnosis of AIDS
It can be diagnosed by checking the CD4 count of an individual. A healthy individual has a CD4 count of 500 – 600 cells per cubic millimetre of blood (cells/mm3). Individuals with AIDS have a CD4 count less than 200 cells/mm3.
Currently, there is no cure for HIV, but there are drug treatments that can help an infected person live as long as a healthy person. Treatment of HIV can reduce it to an undetectable mean. An undetectable mean is a level that the HIV in the blood is so low that they become insignificant. At this point, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another, and it does not have any effect on a person’s life. This can only be possible if the treatment is started early and followed strictly.
Opportunistic Diseases and Infections
Opportunistic infections are those infections that occur frequently and are severe in people whose immune systems are weak. Opportunistic infections are common in people who have AIDS, they include
- Pneumocystis pneumonia
Some of these conditions may come as co-infections—an example is the occurrence of TB and cryptococcal or hepatitis C, B and TB.
Living with HIV
If you have HIV, you are expected to take effective HIV treatment, have regular exercise, stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, and have frequent flu jabs to reduce the risk of getting other serious infections.
Where to get an HIV test
- General practitioners
- Local contraception and young people’s clinic
- Sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinics
- Local drug dependency services
HIV is best managed when identified on time. Get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted regularly. For more information on our STI Clinic in London, contact 020 7183 0649 or send us an email email@example.com