Understanding HIV/AIDS and Treatment Options

Key Things to Understand About HIV/AIDS

What Is HIV/AIDS

HIV is short for human immunodeficiency virus. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV makes it more difficult for the body to fight infections by damaging the immune system. Without treatment, HIV usually progresses into AIDS within five to 10 years.

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Signs of HIV/AIDS

Many people will start to develop flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks of contracting HIV. This can include things such as fever, swollen glands, sore throat, headaches, and muscle aches. HIV will eventually move into the clinical latency stage. During this stage, a person will not have any symptoms.

If a person has HIV and not taking medication, then HIV will eventually progress into AIDS. Recurring fever, rapid weight loss, pneumonia, and diarrhea are some of the symptoms of AIDS.

Causes of HIV/AIDS

There are several ways that the HIV virus can be transmitted. It can be transmitted via sexual intercourse, and it can also be transmitted via blood transfusions. However, blood is thoroughly tested for diseases before it is given to someone. That is why the chance of getting HIV from a blood transfusion is extremely low.

Sharing needles with an infected person is another way that HIV/AIDS can be transmitted. Additionally, an infected mother can transmit the virus to her child through pregnancy, delivery or nursing. The good news is that if a mother receives treatment for HIV, then she can greatly reduce her baby's chances of catching HIV.

Treatment

HIV/AIDS cannot be cured. However, people with HIV can live a relatively normal life with the proper treatment. The prognosis for HIV patients has improved greatly over the past 20 years.

Doctors usually recommend anti-HIV medication. Protease inhibitors, Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, Integrase inhibitors and Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors are some of the different classes of anti-HIV medications that can be used. In many cases, doctors recommend that people take two or three drugs at a time.

The physician will need to constantly monitor a person's CD4 count. The CD4 cells are a type of white blood cells. The CD4 test is a good measure of how well a person's immune system is functioning. CD4 counts are typically measured every three to six months.

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