HIV: General Overview of the deadly disease
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It’s a disease that happens by a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. HIV weakens the immune system, making it easier for infections and cancers to develop.
The pandemic of HIV has taken a heavy toll on the health and well-being of millions around the world. It is estimated that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people in just over 30 years, making it one of history’s deadliest diseases. Although there have been significant advances made in treatments for HIV over this time period, many people are still unaware of their status or how to get tested for the virus.
Through this article, we aim to provide individuals with information about HIV and its symptoms so that they can make informed decisions regarding their health.
How Does HIV Spread?
HIV spreads primarily through sexual contact, sharing needles, blood transfusions, breast milk, or contaminated equipment. In addition, this disease may spread through close physical contact between people who have not been tested and do not know their status. An HIV virus affects the immune system of the body. It can be passed from an HIV-positive person to another person through sexual contact, blood, or semen. You can get HIV even if you do not have symptoms. You can also get this disease if you have certain medical conditions. HIV can damage the body’s cells and make it easier for other infections to take over.
Who Is at Risk for HIV Infection?
Anyone can get this disease. However, certain groups are more likely than others to contract the disease. These groups include men who have sex with men, injection drug users, women who have had sex with multiple partners, heterosexuals who engage in high-risk behaviors, and immigrants from countries where HIV infection rates are higher.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
- Fatigue is a symptom that many people experience when they have this disease. You may feel tired all the time, even if you get plenty of sleep. Your body might not produce enough energy, and you might need extra calories just to stay alive.
- A fever is a sign of illness. A high fever means that your immune system is working hard to fight off infection. If you’re feeling hot and sweaty, take a cool bath or shower. Drink lots of fluids, especially water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- If you feel weak and shaky, you could have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Take care to eat regular meals and snacks. Don’t skip breakfast. Try eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereal, and fruit.
- You might lose weight without trying. But if you notice that you’ve lost more than 2 pounds in 1 week, talk to your doctor right away. Losing weight can happen when someone has AIDS.
- Night sweats are happens by sweating at night. They often wake you up and make you uncomfortable. If you sweat a lot at night, try wearing cotton pajamas instead of synthetic ones.
- Swollen glands are swollen lymph nodes. People who have this disease tend to develop swollen glands in their neck, armpits, groin, and underarms. These swollen glands can hurt and cause discomfort.
- Skin rashes are red spots on your skin. They may itch or burn. Sometimes, they look like small bumps. Rashes can appear anywhere on your body, including your face, scalp, arms, legs, chest, and back.
Can People Avoid Getting HIV?
Yes. If someone does not want to get this disease, he or she should practice safe sex. To avoid getting this disease, use condoms consistently and correctly each time you have intercourse. Also, make sure your partner knows his or her status before having sex. Finally, if you think you might be HIV positive, go to a clinic or testing center to find out whether you really are. The best way to protect yourself from this deadly disease is to do your tests regularly. If you test positive, then you should start taking antiretroviral drugs immediately. These drugs slow down the replication of the virus and keep it under control.
When Should I Be Tested for HIV?
If you are sexually active, you should be tested regularly for HIV. If you are pregnant, you should begin prenatal care immediately and receive regular tests throughout pregnancy. Additionally, if you have any symptoms of AIDS and are considering becoming pregnant, you should do your tests.
How Do I Know My Status?
You can test yourself for this disease. If you have the virus, you can find out with a simple blood test. A negative result shows that you can stop worrying about contracting the disease. If you are positive, you need to take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from further transmission.
Testing Yourself for HIV
You can find out whether you are at risk for this disease infection by having blood testing it for antibodies (proteins) that fight off viruses. There are two types of tests—an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), which detects the presence of anti-HIV antibodies, and a Western Blot, which identifies specific proteins associated with this disease.
The test should be performed at least twice per year. After collecting the blood sample, keep the tube refrigerated until the results are ready. You may want to wait about seven days before receiving your results.
There are several methods to test for this disease infection. These methods include ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), Western Blotting, DNA PCR (polymerase chain reaction), and RIA (radioimmunoassay). All these tests have their advantages and disadvantages.
- ELISA: ELISA testing involves using antibodies to detect the presence of HIV antigens in the blood. The ELISA test is the gold standard method for determining whether individuals have this virus or not. This test measures levels of anti-HIV antibodies in the blood. A positive result indicates that the individual have HIV.
- Western Blotting: Another popular method is the Western Blotting test. In this test, antibodies are the strips of paper containing protein bands. When we add patient’s serum to the strip, the antibodies bind to any HIV antigen present in the sample. We then use the band pattern from the strip to compare samples known to be HIV-positive. If there is no cross-reactivity between the patient’s serum and the control strips, then the specimen is negative. However, if the patient’s serum produces a unique banding pattern, then we can say that the specimen is positive. There are two types of Western blotting tests: 1) IgG/IgM; 2) p24 antigen.
- DNA PCR: This is a newer test for detecting this disease. We isolate HIV RNA from blood cells after taking a blood sample. Then, primers are used to amplify specific sections of the viral genome. This method is more sensitive than the traditional methods described above.
- RIA: Another method is the radioimmunoprecipitation assay (RIA). This test uses polystyrene beads coated with antibodies to capture the virus particles. Once the viruses have been captured, they are washed and counted using a gamma counter.
If you are positive, do your test every year. Do these tests if you are someone who is at high risk for HIV infection, such as men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and people People who have undergone a blood transfusion or received an organ transplant. If you receive a positive result, do the test again. A person who receives a false positive result may test positive again after retesting.
If you are positive, you should take action to keep the virus from spreading. You should not risk sexual contact, sharing needles or other drug use, or having unprotected sex. You should also avoid having any blood, semen, or other body fluids contact your mucous membranes, such as your mouth, vagina, or penis. If you wish to be safe from this disease do the tests on time. Knowing your HIV status is also important because it can help you take action to keep the virus from spreading.