HIV is a deadly and infectious virus that has claimed millions of lives ever since it was discovered in 1983.
But how much do you really know about HIV?
What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?
Great people often say that knowledge is power.
More information certainly helps in creating awareness.
Awareness that everyone can use to combat against HIV and AIDS.
Take a look at our definitive guide to HIV, including the basics, symptoms, prevention, treatment, and more.
HIV is an acronym for Human Immunodeficiciency Virus.
HIV is a virus that will weaken your immune system, leaving you open to other viruses, germs, pathogens and other invaders.
What you should also know is that HIV causes AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
AIDS is a condition that causes you to get sick from things that people wouldn’t normally get.
Therefore, people who have AIDS have a higher risk of getting rare health conditions and illnesses as compared to those who don’t.
HIV is not gender specific, and both sexes can get or spread the virus.
An HIV-positive individual can feel fine and yet be able to pass the infection to others.
What’s important to know is that being positive for HIV doesn’t mean you automatically have AIDS.
Modern medicine has helped HIV-positive patients stay healthy and live for a longer time.
But the sad part is that both AIDS and HIV cannot be cured.
As of today, there are 36.7 million people from all over the world who has HIV/AIDS but only 70 percent know they are infected or battling this deadly condition.
The virus usually lives in human blood, sexual fluids in men and women and breast milk.
HIV cannot live in sweat, urine, tears and saliva, and as such you won’t get HIV when you come in contact with the aforementioned fluids.
Believe it or not, HIV is not easy to get.
The virus dies out pretty quickly when exposed to open air.
It also won’t survive when the body fluid dries up.
HIV cannot be spread via insects or animals.
It’s not a virus that can be found on public surfaces such as tables, the floor and on toilet seats or door handles.
HIV can get passed down from one individual to another in pre-seminal fluid, blood, semen, rectal fluid, vaginal fluid and breast milk.
Any activity where an exchange of these fluids between two persons puts them on a risk of contracting HIV.
The leading reason for widespread HIV infection is unprotected sex.
Having anal or vaginal sex without a condom is one of the most common ways people get the virus.
In fact, the more sex partners an individual may have, the higher the risk of that person getting HIV positive.
Sharing needles is also one way of getting HIV.
Reusing syringes or needles of a person who has the virus will put you at a big risk of getting it.
Curiously, a needle that’s used for tattoos or piercing may also infect you if it was used on an HIV-positive individual and not sterilized after.
Blood transfusion, or the passing of one blood to another can also present a condition where there’s a chance to acquire HIV.
A mother who has HIV can pass the infection down to her baby through breastfeeding, during and before giving birth.
To understand the symptoms of HIV, you’ll need to know that there are 3 stages of HIV infection.
Let’s start with the first stage.
Most people won’t know that they have HIV.
But after a while, symptoms will start showing up.
Your body puts up a fight somewhere between 2 to 6 weeks after you’ve been infected with the virus.
The reason why most people don’t know they have HIV is simple.
The illnesses are similar to symptoms you experience when you’re hit with the flu.
Some of the symptoms include fatigue, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fever, aching muscles, nausea, diarrhea and constant headaches.
The symptoms of HIV progress to the second stage, which is called chronic HIV infection.
This is when your immune system has lost the fight.
This is also the stage where the virus starts killing off your CD4 T-cells.
Normal blood cell count is somewhere around 450 to 1,400.
When it drops down to 450 cells per microliter, then your immune system will be compromised.
The final stage of HIV is called AIDS.
You enter the AIDS phase if your CD4 T-cells drop down to below 200.
Doctors can diagnose you with AIDS if you contract unusual illnesses such as pneumocystis pneumonia or Kaposi’s sarcoma.
The symptoms become more pronounced.
You start feeling tired all the time, experience night sweats and alarming weight loss, purplish skin spots that don’t disappear, constant raggedness in breathing, vaginal, throat or mouth yeast infections, mysterious bleeding or bruising, lasting fever and swollen lymph nodes in the groin and neck.
You can learn more about HIV and AIDs symptoms here.
HIV is currently incurable, but modern medicine has made leaps and bounds when it comes to treatment.
One of these treatments is called ART, or Anti-Retroviral Therapy.
ART is a combination of various drugs, i.e., a cocktail that fights the infection in many different ways.
Studies have found that drug cocktails work best in controlling HIV and in preventing the virus from becoming resistant to the treatment.
A normal cocktail includes several ARTs from 2 or more different anti-viral groups for the best effect.
ART drugs can cause many side effects, and as a result people turn to alternative medicine.
Alternative medicine pertaining to treating HIV can be divided into several groups- Homeopathic, Naturopathic and Ayurveda.
Homeopathic medicine, or individualized treatment includes making the body stronger by means of herbs and vitamins and minerals.
Naturopathic medicine simply means activating your inner healing forces from within.
Ayurvedic medicine involves the spirit, the mind and the body to treat HIV.
Treating HIV depends upon several factors, including personal preference, the stage of the infection and complications such as existing illnesses, allergies to specific drugs, etc.
Ultimately, it’s up to the patient to determine which type of treatment is best.
A combination of cocktail ARTs and alternative healing can bring about the greatest change.
Changing one’s mindset and living a healthy lifestyle will greatly contribute to extending the lifespan and the quality of life as well.