According to research published by the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), more than 1.3 million people are living with AIDS in the USA and nearly 14% of them do not know they have been infected with HIV. The latest study from the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that 38 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world, of which 1.7 million were newly reported cases in the year 2019. Even the death rate is still high – nearly 690,000 people have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS in 2019 alone.
In this article, we walk you through what HIV is, 3 symptoms of HIV, treatment, and much more.
What is HIV?
HIV is considered an epidemic that is infecting millions across the globe on an annual basis. STDs are caused by different types of microorganisms that transmit from one person to another during intimate contact. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Trichomoniasis STDs are caused by bacteria which has a complete cure if addressed at the right time.
HIV is caused by a virus named Human Immuno Deficiency Virus that primarily affects the immune system and weakens our body. HIV is of two different types but they carry the same nature of suppressing immunity. They are named numerically HIV-1 & HIV-2. HIV-2 type is not commonly seen in other countries except the African countries. HIV-1 is the most commonly reported type in the Western world and other parts of the world.
Symptoms of HIV
Symptoms of HIV are not instantly exhibited after contracting the virus from an infected person. Unlike other STDs, HIV progresses in multiple stages. Stage 1 which is known as acute HIV where the virus has first entered the system, starts to manipulate and attacks the CD4 (T-cells or White Blood Cells) immune cells.
Stage 2 and stage are the most advanced phase of HIV infection where the immune power is depleting and the virus is taking over the body. Symptoms generally vary according to your stage. In the initial stage, the symptoms are often mild and most probably do not exhibit at all. As time progresses the symptoms will be more severe and difficult to control.
Following are the 3 commonly seen symptoms in HIV-infected individuals.
1. Loss of Appetite
When the virus enters the body and starts to manipulate, it causes nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and weight loss. These symptoms are generally experienced by many people during acute HIV infection. Often they tend to misinterpret and take it as a common flu-like disease and leave it untreated, which in turn becomes dangerous as they progress to 2 and 3 stages.
Next to general symptoms like loss of appetite, respiratory symptoms occur. A dry cough is usually the only respiratory symptom associated with acute HIV infection – initial stages. Again as they resemble general flu-like signs, most people ignore and wait for it to go away on its own. However, that is not the case. Most of the people who have AIDS (the last stage) tend to regret not getting checked and treated in the initial stage itself.
3. Severe Chillness
Along with chillness, sore throat, fever, and headache can also be a sign of HIV. As the White Blood Cells are getting destroyed, easily acquired diseases are acquired and it can also be recurring.
Persistent fever, rashes, night sweats, and memory loss are some of the symptoms that appear in extreme stages.
How to Test for HIV?
It is highly recommended to get screened for STDs including HIV if you are sexually active, having intimacy with unknown partners has a risk of getting infected with severe diseases like HIV.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, then get tested for HIV to confirm your situation.
Talking about HIV detection, many people tend to get tricked here. The HIV virus takes quite some time to develop detectable antibodies. That is even though you have symptoms a standard HIV test will come negative that you do not have the disease. Thus, a standard test will be fully reliable only after 18 – 90 days of the infection to turn positive. Nonetheless, the technology has gone a step further and we currently have another advanced testing mechanism that detects the virus before that period.
RNA refers to ‘Ribonucleic Acid’. RNA is a genetic material present in each and every cell in the bloodstream. The primary function of the HIV RNA test is to detect whether the virus is present by looking for the genetic material of the virus itself like coding, decoding, and the expression of certain genes. HIV RNA test can also be referred to as the Viral Load Test.
With the help of the internet, diagnostic service providers like DxSaver, have listed out the laboratories that provide these high-tech HIV RNA testing options along with their affordable prices in one place, saving your time and money.
How to Treat HIV?
HIV is caused by a virus that is literally impossible to kill with antibiotics and drugs. Even if detected at the initial stages, the virus cannot be completely destroyed. However, medications will be prescribed to suppress the virus activity resulting in slower progression of the spread. The symptoms may disappear after the prescribed treatment, but that doesn’t mean you are completely cured. The virus is still inactively present.
The final stage is known as AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deificny Syndrome), where the CD4 immune cells are totally weakened. It is very hard to recover from AIDS and the life expectancy is very low, typically less than 2 – 5 years.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases are highly contagious and infectious diseases that spread rapidly without showing any symptoms. STDs including HIV doesn’t show any sign in the initial stage, this is one of the prime reason for the widespread of HIV. Partners who have more than one intimate partner tend to get affected easily and also spread the disease to others without their knowledge as the symptoms do not appear. Spread the knowledge about STDs and HIV and help to stop this decades-long epidemic.