HIV & AIDS – Symptoms in Men & Women
HIV and AIDS are both two sexually transmitted diseases that show few symptoms and currently have no cure. The diseases affect over a million of people in the US and about 50,000 new infections are reported annually.
What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and is an infection that is sexually transmitted. After time this sexually transmitted disease develop into AIDS. This virus attacks the immune system, causes immunodeficiency and destroys cells that help to fight off infection and diseases. If your body becomes weak over time and has too few immune cells (or low T cells count) you may develop AIDS which stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
AIDS is diagnosed when a person’s cell count falls below a certain level and they begin to contract other illnesses on a regular basis. It is currently estimated that 1.2 million individuals in the US have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. In addition, 20% of these people are not aware that they have contracted the virus. A more staggering fact is that 40 million people worldwide have contracted HIV.
How Is HIV Transmitted?
HIV is a virus that is spread through sexual fluids or contact with infected blood, and transmission from mother to child. When two people have unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, HIV can be spread during the exchange of fluids. On the other hand, if two people exchange blood either through an accident or blood transfusion with an infected person, HIV can also be transmitted. However, blood that is used in transfusions today is tested for the infection. HIV can also be spread through the sharing of injection needles, syringes, or any injection equipment used for injecting illegal drugs. HIV can also spread from a mother to her born child during pregnancy or through breastfeeding.
There are no medical documented cases of HIV transmission through casual contact such as hugging, shaking hands, contact with sweat, through insect bites such as mosquitoes or using of public toilets.
How Do I Know If I Have HIV?
HIV often does not produce symptoms immediately after an infection. The only way to know for sure whether or not you have contracted HIV is to go for a STD test since the first 5 to 10 years after infection may produce no symptoms at all. Local STD tests are available from doctors’ offices, health clinics, or you can purchase an at home HIV test that you send in to an independent laboratory.
HIV Symptoms In Women
The most common symptom of HIV in women is the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix when a pap smear is completed. However, PID (pelvic inflammatory Disease) is also common in women who have contracted HIV. Recurrent yeast infections, genital warts, ulcers, abnormal vaginal discharge, rash, diarrhea, nausea, and body aches can also be signs of the HIV viral infection.
HIV Symptoms In Men
HIV symptoms in men are initially very similar to symptoms of most viral infections. These symptoms include rash, fever, tiredness, headache, sore throat, muscle aches or joint pain, or swollen glands. These symptoms may come and go over the course of several years as it can take up to twenty years for late stage symptoms to occur. In last stage HIV or AIDS common colds can cause severe symptoms as the body struggles to fight off the infection. Night sweats, unexplained weight loss, persistent lethargy, blurred vision, shortness of breath, dry cough, fever that lasts weeks, white spots in the mouth, and swollen lymph nodes are common in the later stages of HIV.
When a person’s helper T cell count falls below 200 per cubic millimeter of blood or lower, HIV is considered to have progressed into AIDS.
How Is HIV Diagnosed? How To Test For HIV?
HIV tests can be given in the doctors or medical clinics office or you can take a test at home. In either case you will be required to provide a sample of blood, urine, or saliva. The test will then test for the antibodies your body produces when HIV is infecting the body. In most cases these antibodies are produced within 25 days after the virus is introduced to the body. However, it can take up to ninety days for an HIV to show positive results after infection.
In the event that you are tested positive, there are cases that the initial screening tests may produce false “positive” results. To confirm the diagnosis of HIV, your health care provider may perform another test called a Western blot immunosassy test which requires a blood sample to check if you are really HIV positive. Western blot test results are usually available within a few days to a week.
For an anonymous diagnostic test, click here… (Testing takes 5 min and results in 3 days.)
(**Anonymous lab tests will not appear on your permanent medical records or insurance records without your explicit permission.)
HIV Treatment – How Is HIV Treated?
There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, due to advances in pharmaceutical research and medicine science, there are now many different medications as well as traditional remedies that can be used to boost the immune system, manage the disease and fight off infection to help people live long, healthy lives.
Currently, the most common form of treatment for HIV is the prescription of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to treat infections caused by the retrovirus, such as HIV as part of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treatment which helps to inhibit the progression of HIV to AIDS and prolonging the life of the infected individual. However side effects are are often severe with this form of treatment and patients often develop headaches, abdominal discomfort, nausea or diarrhea.
People with HIV can also avoid illness by adopting a healthy lifestyle such as eliminating smoking and avoiding people who are sick or public places where a virus may be contracted. In the later stages of AIDS, there are steps that can be taken in the hospital to help fight off infection.
AIDS Awareness and Living with HIV
Living with HIV/AIDS is very different today than it was fifteen years ago. With the advances in medication and treatment many people live long healthy lives which is why getting screened early before the symptoms of HIV appear is more important than ever. Early screening and treatment will give one the best chances to continue to live healthy lives. In fact many people who got screened and treated early continue to live twenty plus years without ever experiencing any severe symptoms of HIV or AIDS.
In the United States, there are government programs such as the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) that provide HIV treatment to patients with low income, limited finances or do not have private insurance.