What does HIV mean?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has the morphology like any other common virus. However, what makes it so deadly is its ability to infect the body permanently. It is not possible to rid the body of the virus once the infection has reached the T-cells, which are the cells of the immune system. It multiplies very quickly, but the speed can be impeded by proper treatments. As mentioned, HIV primarily targets the immune system and thus, makes the body weak against incoming infections, including the most common ones. That is why an HIV positive patient has higher chances of developing Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). However, not every HIV+ patient suffers from AIDS in their lifetime. A prevalence of the virus can be gauged by the fact that the CDC estimates that around 1 million people in the States are a host to HIV and that a quarter of that number are not even aware of their condition.
How is an HIV+ individual different from an AIDS patient?
Being positive for HIV and suffering from AIDS are two completely different things. HIV is a virus that can remain dormant in the body of the host for a long time, even for life. It is absolutely random as to when the virus can become active again. If and when the virus becomes active, it damages the immune cells, compromising the body’s ability to fight against trivial infections like the common cold. This is when the patient is said to be suffering from AIDS. With early detection and proper treatment, it is possible to reduce the potency of the virus, improving the health of the patient and minimizing their ability to infect other people.
Who is more susceptible to an HIV infection?
The propensity of people to contract HIV is same for everyone. However, if you have to categorize, then people with an active sex life involving multiple partners are at a greater risk. Unprotected sex, oral, vaginal or anal, with an infected individual can lead to an HIV infection. It can also spread while sharing unsterilized needles or syringes. An HIV+ mother can also pass on the disease to her child in the womb, during childbirth or while breastfeeding.
How can I know if I have been infected by HIV?
There are no external symptoms that can indicate whether an individual is infected by the virus, until it becomes active. Only clinical tests can reveal whether or not an individual is suffering from an HIV infection.
What are the tests to ascertain an HIV infection?
There are two FDA-approved tests that are currently practiced by the testing centers, which provide an accurate diagnosis of HIV infection. One is the HIV Antibody Test, which uses the Western Blot technique to basically look for antibodies against the virus. This test can detect antibodies in the bloodstream after 25 days of the exposure to the virus. Other than this, there is a direct test called the HIV RNA Early Detection. This test detects the presence of HIV directly. This is a much more sensitive test and can test positive within the second week of the initial infection.
Where can I get these tests done?
There are not many laboratories that offer quality HIV testing. Especially, the HIV RNA Early Detection is not available in every lab. We, at STDCheck.com have collated data from every available source to filter out the best testing centers for HIV in the U.S. You can also get in touch with us, and we will be glad to help you find a suitable testing center with a testing technique of your choice.
Can an HIV infection be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no treatment available which can completely eradicate the virus from the system of the patient. However, many antiretroviral medications and vaccinations are available that can help in the management of the viral infection, so that the patient can live a healthier and fuller life.
Is it mandatory to undergo treatment after an HIV infection?
It is a deadly virus and if not treated, can most certainly lead to the death of the host. It is already mentioned that HIV attacks the immune system of the body. So, if the virus remains undetected or undiagnosed, then it can keep harming the immune system steadily, which will eventually develop into AIDS. This also leads to a greater vulnerability to other STDs and even cancer. If pregnant women do not get proper treatment, they will stand a higher risk of infecting their babies with the virus.
How can I prevent contracting HIV altogether?
Abstinence offers foolproof protection, but not engaging in unprotected sex and avoiding sharing intravenous injections are also very effective. Talking to your sexual partner openly about their health condition before getting intimate is also a wise move.