This article takes a look at the various symptoms one can get if infected with HIV and later AIDS if the disease develops that far. But first, let’s look at what HIV and AIDS are, and how they are passed from person to person.
What is HIV?
- HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- HIV attacks the human immune system. The human immune system typically is able to help regulate the body successfully by keeping the body protected from infection by attacking viruses that cause internal damage. However, HIV attacks the immune system directly. This prevents it from doing its job correctly. The compromised immune system allows the body to develop AIDS, which can be extremely harmful and deadly.
- While there are several ways, HIV can be contracted, unprotected sexual contact with an infected person is the most common way it is transferred.
- Despite false information. there is unfortunately not currently a cure available for HIV or AIDS, although there are a variety of treatment options.
What is AIDS?
- AIDS is the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- AIDS usually develops about 10 years after the person contracts an HIV infection, on average if untreated. It tends to take about that long for the HIV to kill the healing cells produced by the immune system. AIDS develops in the body, once the immune system can no longer fight off the infection.
- However, a person with an already weak immune system from malnourishment or other illness may develop AIDS more quickly.
How is HIV passed around?
- Through unprotected sexual intercourse with infected partner
- Direct contact with an infected person’s blood
- Drugs used via injection with a needle. If the needle was used by an infected person, HIV can be transferred.
- Mother to baby. An infected mother can pass HIV to her baby during pregnancy, delivery and even through her breast milk.
- The first sign of AIDS developing from HIV is when the infected person develops some sort of AIDS-related condition. This is often referred to as an “opportunistic infection” and results in an AIDS-related cancer. This is more difficult to treat than HIV and can be fatal. It is called an “opportunistic” type of infection because it takes the opportunity of a severely weekend immune system and it attacks the body.
- It is still possible for a person to be diagnosed with AIDS even if they have yet to develop an opportunistic infection. When an HIV-infected person’s immune systems cells (CD4 cells) drops below a certain level, they usually develop AIDS.
- In the first few weeks after contracting HIV, you may experience flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, sore throat and rash. However, the HIV symptoms change slightly and worsen after you have had the infection for a few years to include diarrhea, weight loss, fever, cough and swollen lymph nodes.
- If treatment for HIV is not sought after or available in time, the infection will develop into AIDS. The AIDS symptoms include even more severe symptoms like soaking night sweats, shaking, chills, fever, chronic diarrhea, unusual lesions on the tongue or mouth, headache, chronic fatigue, distorted vision, severe weight loss and skin rashes or raised bumps.
- As previously mentioned, there is no direct cure for HIV or AIDS. However, there is now a popular type of treatment that can help prevent HIV/AIDS symptoms and the illness from progressing for many years.
- The type of medication used to treat HIV symptoms is called an antiretroviral. It is a treatment series of drugs that must be taken every day for the rest of the infected person’s life.
- The antiretroviral drugs help keep the amount of HIV in a person’s system as low as possible, which helps to minimize the damage to the immune system.
- Multiple medications are given in a method called combination therapy. This is the best way to treat HIV to prevent the infection from becoming drug resistant and ineffective, which would happen if there was only one medication used.
- Practice abstinence from any kind of sexual contact where there is the transference of semen.
- Practice caution around an infected person’s blood.
- Practice safe sex in a monogamous relationship only where you are certain your partner is not infected.
- It is important for sexually active teens to remember that if you are going to have sex, correctly use a latex condom each and every time.