What is HIV?
HIV is also called as Human Immunodeficiency virus, this virus causes AIDS. This HIV weakens the person’s immune system and weakness the ability to fight infections. HIV is transformed through unprotected sex and sharing needle. Untreated HIV reduces the CD4 cells and makes the immune system harder to fight for infections and other diseases. The last stage of HIV is AIDS where the person becomes very weak.
Origin of HIV: this is the disease transmitted from the central African chimpanzee to humans. In Chimpanzee’s the version of Immunodeficiency virus is known as Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). HIV was into humans from the late 1800s, firstly it was in African countries and later it was spread to rest of the countries throughout the world.
What are the causes of HIV?
HIV virus is spread through sexual contact or blood, from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. It is not spread by hugging, kissing, dancing, or shaking hands with the affected person. It is spread only through the blood that is affected by HIV, Semen or vaginal secretions if they enter your body, then you will be at risk of getting HIV.
- If the person has vaginal, oral or anal sex with the affected person, where blood, semen, or vaginal secretions are infected. This virus can enter into your body through mouth sores, small tears or vagina during sexual activity.
- The virus may be transmitted through blood transfusion. Nowadays they are conducting a screening blood test to check whether it is affected or not. So the risk will be very low.
- Sharing the needles that are contaminated may put us at high risk of transferring the HIV virus and other diseases like hepatitis.
- If the mother is affected by HIV, then there is a chance of spreading the virus to the babies. If the mother feeds the baby with the breast milk the there is a chance of getting HIV to the babies. And now a days the pregnant ladies are tested if that result is positive they will be treated so that the babies will be at low risk of getting affected.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
The symptoms of HIV and AIDs are different, these symptoms are different in each and every phase depending upon the severity:
- In primary infection: After the virus enters into our body we can see the symptoms like flu-like illness within a month or two. This may last for a few weeks and this may include symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, and joint pains, rash, sore throat and painful mouth sores, and swollen lymph. These symptoms are noticed at the beginning and the amount of virus is very high in the bloodstream to spread the disease to the next stage.
- Clinical latent infection; this stage is chronic HIV. In a few people, there will be swelling of the lymph nodes. In this stage, the virus remains in the body and infects the white blood cells. This stage lasts for around 10 years. The virus multiplies and destroys the immune cells and develop mild infections or severe signs and symptoms like fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, weight loss, and oral yeast infection.
- AIDS: this AIDS is also known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome now a days the people who are affected with antiviral treatment, so this will not allow the virus to develop and will not lead to AIDS. If this treatment was not given then HIV will turn into AIDS in 10 years. This stage is the final phase of HIV, in this the person’s immune system is severely damaged and leads to all the opportunistic diseases and cancers which do not usually affect the person with the healthy immune system. And the person with AIDX will have symptoms such as soaking night sweats, recurring fever, chronic infections or diarrhea, white spots on the tongue or on the mouth, weight loss, skin rashes, and bumps.
What are the risk factors of HIV?
Firstly HIV got affected by men who had sex with men. But now it got spread to through heterosexual sex. This is affected by anyone without influencing the age, sex, race. You will be at great risk of HIV/Aids if you have:
- You will be at more risk if you have multiple sex partners.
- Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time when you have sex.
- Have an STI which produce open sores on your genitals and these sores act as a doorway for HIV virus.
- Some people share a needle and syringes. This leaves the droplets of blood in them. When these intravenous drugs are used then that people will be at more risk of getting affected by HIV.
- Lack of circumcision increases the risk of heterosexual transmission which leads to HIV aids.
What are the complications of HIV/AIDS?
If the person is affected by HIV then he will have a weak immune system, which leads to numerous and chronic infections or diseases. This also leads to the death of the person with AIDS. The person with HIV will have infections and cancers that are common with HIV/AIDS:
Tuberculosis (TB): TB is the most common infection associated with HIV. This sometimes led to death.
Candidiasis: This is also the common infection in HIV infection. It causes inflammation and forms a thick white coating on the mucous membrane of mouth, tongue or vagina.
Cryptococcal meningitis: This is an infection caused in the central nervous system, which results in the inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord. This is mainly affected by the HIV virus and the fungus that is present in the soil.
Toxoplasmosis: This is a deadly infection caused by toxoplasma gondii, a parasite spread primarily by cats through their stools to the animals and humans. If this is spreading to the brain seizures.
Cryptosporidiosis: this infection is caused by intestinal parasites found in animals. These parasites mainly grow in the intestines and bile ducts, leading to severe, chronic diarrhea in the people of AIDS.
Wasting syndrome: Aggressive treatment reduces the number of wasting syndrome cases, then also it affects many people with AIDS. In this case, the person loses about 10% of body weight, which is mainly caused by diarrhea, chronic weakness, and fever.
Neurological complications: as aids does not affect the nerve cells, but it has some symptoms of confusion, forgetfulness, depression, anxiety, and difficulty walking. This mainly leads to behavioral changes and reduce mental functioning.
Kidney diseases: HIV is associated with the nephropathy is an inflammation of the tiny filters in your kidneys that remove excess fluids and waste from the blood and passes them through urine.
Kaposi’s sarcoma: a tumor of the blood vessels walls, this is rare cancer in the people who are not infected with HIV. This are the pink, red or purple lesions are seen on the skin and mouth. For darker skin people the lesions may be dark brown or black. This mainly affects the internal organs like the digestive system and lungs.
Lymphoma: This cancer starts in the white blood cells. The most common early sign is painless swelling in the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin.
What is the diagnosis of HIV?
HIV is most commonly diagnosed by testing blood or saliva for antibodies. Our body takes time to develop antibodies, it takes up to 12 weeks. Quicker checks for HIV antigen, a protein is produced by the virus immediately after infection. It allows the person to take proper steps to prevent the spread of the virus to others.
Home testing: home testing kits for HIV are available in the market they are food and drug administration. In this, it is tested with dried blood samples and saliva. If the test is positive you need to consult the doctor and make the diagnosis. If the test is negative then continue to test for a few months to know the result.5
What is the Basic test to confirm HIV?
The doctor conducts several tests to determine the stage of the disease and the treatment for it. The tests are:
CD4 T cell count: This test is for white blood cells, as we know that these virus affects the white blood cells and destroys. If the cell count is below 200 then there is a chance HIV.
Viral load (HIV RNA): This test is for measuring the amount of virus in the blood flow. If the count of the virus is high then the situation is worst.
Drug resistance: some strains of HIV are resistant. This test helps the doctor determine the specific form of the virus and their resistance and the treatment that has to give to the person.
The doctor also conducts some other tests for the complications and infections like TB, hepatitis, toxoplasmosis, liver or kidney damage or urinary tract infection.
When to start the treatment for HIV?
There is no proper cure for diagnosis, but there are many drugs are available to control the virus. Such treatment is called antiretroviral therapy. Each drug works on the virus in different ways. Now a days ART is recommended for everyone and regardless of CD4 t cells counts.
The main classes of the anti-HIV drug include: Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors: turn off a protein needed by HIV to make copies of itself. E.g.: Efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine.
Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors: The faulty versions of the building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself. E.g.: abacavir, and the combination of emtricitabine/ tenofovir, discovery.
Protease inhibitors inactivate HIV protease, another protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Eg: atazanavir, darunavir, fosamprenavir, and indinavir. Entry or fusion inhibitors enter into the white blood cells. Enfuvirtide and maraviroc. Integrase inhibitors work on HIV by disabling a protein called integrase, which HIV uses to insert its genetic material into white blood cells. Eg: raltegravir, dolutegravir.
When treatment becomes difficult:
HIV treatment plans may involve several pills at a specific time every day for the rest of your life. Each medication has its own unique feature. There may be some side effects for some pills which may be mild or even life-threatening. The side effects may last for the lifetime. Some side effects are
Common side effects:
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, heart diseases, weakened bones, breakdown of muscle tissue, abnormal cholesterol levels, higher blood sugar, and nerve problems.
Severe side effects:
Lactic acidosis increases the high acid levels in the blood, which can be fatal. This results in difficulty in breathing, enlargement of the liver, blue hands or feet, abnormal heartbeat.
Hyperglycemia this is also called as diabetes, in this phase the sugar levels of the body will be high, which leads to increased urination, excessive thirst or hunger, weight loss.
Hyperlipidemia in this the person will have increased fat in the blood. This condition may lead to heart diseases and pancreatitis and inflammation of the pancreas.
Hepatotoxicity is the condition where the liver is damaged. This side effect may be caused by several drugs that are used to treat HIV. This results in the death of liver cells, increased liver enzymes, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, jaundice, and enlargement of the liver.
Skin rashes may be mild or severe or life-threatening. All the drugs for treating HIV contain fusion inhibitors that cause side effects like Blisters in the mouth, eyes, and genitals. Peeling of the skin, fever, and headache.
What are the home remedies for that should be followed?
Along with the medical treatment the person who is affected by HIV has to take of himself to stay longer:
- The person should eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein. These foods help him to stay strong and gives him energy and support his immune system to stay healthy.
- He should avoid intake of dairy products, raw eggs and raw seafood like oysters, sushi, etc. The people who are infected by HIV will have the foodborne illness will be severe. So he has to eat well-cooked meat.
- The person should be given the right immunizations to prevent infection of pneumonia and the flu. When he was given vaccines make sure that it does not contain any live virus which is dangerous for the weakened immune systems.
- Some animals may carry a parasite that are harmful the HIV positive people. This parasite causes infections which may even lead to death. Cat feces contain Toxoplasmosis, reptiles contain salmonella and birds contain Cryptococcus. After handling pets or emptying the litter box make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly, which prevents from spreading of parasites entering the body.
HIV is one of the most serious global threats of health. There are so many people who are affected by the HIV Virus. More people are getting treated than before.