Differences Between HIV And AIDS

HIV And AIDS: Difference, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

HIV is often thought of in conjunction with AIDS, but the two are different. They do, however, go hand-in-hand and are linked to each other in some ways. HIV is essentially a virus that triggers AIDS. For this reason, AIDS is known as Stage III HIV. At one point in time, an HIV or AIDS diagnosis carried stigma and fear. But now, with the development of advanced treatment and cases of HIV remission, people with this disease can expect to live productive, long lives. HIV positive people adhering to regular antiretroviral therapy can have a near-normal experience.

HIV: Know More

HIV refers to a virus that harms your immunity system. The immune system essentially helps the body to defend itself against infections. Untreated HIV infects and destroys your CD4 cells, a type of immune cells also called T-cells. When there are fewer T-cells in the body, various types of chronic diseases like cancer and infections occur. HIV kills more and more T-cells as the disease advances.

The transmission of HIV takes place through bodily fluids, including breast milk, rectal and vaginal fluid, semen, or blood. However, the virus does not spread through water, air, or even contact casually. HIV is a chronic condition, and presently, there is no cure. However, with antiretroviral treatment and medical care, it is possible to manage HIV and live for a long time.

Without proper treatment, HIV-positive individuals are likely to develop AIDS. The immune system cannot fend off diseases and infections at this stage. Untreated, life expectancy for AIDS patients is an average of 3 years. Using antiretroviral treatment, life expectancy can lengthen, and HIV can be controlled. Estimates show 1.1 million people in the United States are HIV positive, and one in every five do not know they are infected. HIV results in changes across the body.

AIDS: Know More

AIDS is a disease in HIV-positive people. It refers to the most advanced stage of HIV. Because a person has HIV, it cannot be automatically assumed they will develop AIDS. HIV kills CD4/T cells. Healthy adults possess a T-cell count of 500 to 1.5 thousand per cubic millimeter. Only those with HIV who have a T-cell count below 200 per cubic millimeter are diagnosed with AIDS. An HIV positive person can also be diagnosed with AIDS and develop cancer or opportunistic infections. HIV infected people can also suffer from opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.

Within a decade, HIV can progress to AIDS. While there is no cure for AIDS, without treatment, even life expectancy falls to three years. This survival period can be even shorter if a person develops a severe opportunistic illness. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs can stop AIDS from advancing.

When AIDS develops, the immunity system is compromised considerably. It gets weak to the point where individuals can no longer fend off infections or diseases. This makes individuals susceptible to conditions such as pneumonia, oral thrush, tuberculosis, and herpes virus CMV. AIDS can also trigger toxoplasmosis, a parasite-induced brain infection, or cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal infection within the brain. Cryptosporidiosis is an infection caused by intestinal parasites, which is also found in AIDS patients. Cancers like lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma are likelier in AIDS patients.

The limited life expectancy linked to untreated AIDS is a direct consequence of complications and diseases related to the syndrome. An immune system weakened by AIDS can trigger serious illnesses.

AIDS and HIV: Understand the Links

To develop AIDS, a person must have HIV. But the opposite does not hold. HIV/ Human Immunodeficiency Virus progresses through three different phases, namely the acute stage a first few weeks post the transmission, chronic/clinical latency stage, or AIDS itself as the final stage.

The speed with which HIV cases progress through a chronic stage varies considerably across people. Sans treatment, it can take ten years before AIDS develops. And with treatment, people can live longer. Although there is no cure for HIV either, people with HIV live healthy lives to a degree, thanks to Antiretroviral Therapy.

HIV And AIDS Infographic

HIV-AIDS: Know the Differences

#1 HIV is a virus; AIDS is a condition

HIV is a virus that deteriorates the immune system. HIV is a form of the virus that can be contracted only by humans. It impacts immunity so that a person is defenseless against diseases. Immune systems clear different viruses in the bodies of healthy individuals. But for HIV+ patients, immune system functioning is hampered. Medications can ward off HIV by interrupting the virus life cycle.

On the other hand, AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is a condition. HIV leads to AIDS when it advances to the third and penultimate stage. Symptoms of step 3 HIV or AIDS are prevalent, whereby the immunity is lowered, and diseases like pneumonia and TB develop and advance. Certain kinds of cancer are also likely when resistance is low. Antiretroviral therapy can prevent AIDS from developing.

#2 HIV Does not Always Lead to AIDS

While HIV is a virus, AIDS is the condition, and HIV infections do not always advance to this third stage. Many HIV+ people live for years without AIDS. A person with HIV can expect to live an average lifespan due to treatment advances. Although a person has HIV infection without AIDS, diagnosis of AIDS is possible only in those with HIV. As there is no cure, HIV infections do not end, even if AIDS does not develop.

#3 HIV Can be Transmitted. AIDS is the Outcome

As HIV is a virus, it can be transmitted across people like many other viruses. AIDS is a condition the person acquires after contracting HIV. While HIV can be transmitted through the exchange of body fluids, through shared needles or unprotected sex, even blood transfusions of infected nature of maternal transmission of HIV to the child during pregnancy can take place.

#4 HIV Does Not Always Show Symptoms, AIDS Does.

HIV causes flu-type symptoms about 2-4 weeks of post transmission. This period is known as an acute infection. But then the immunity brings the disease under control during the latency period. But no immunity system can eliminate HIV, although it can control it for years. The latency period can last for years, whereby HIV+ people may experience no symptoms. Without antiretroviral therapy, however, the person can develop AIDS and experience a host of symptoms.

#5 A Test Can diagnose HIV, AIDS Diagnosis is Complicated

HIV transmission triggers antibody production against the virus. Blood or saliva tests can detect if the infection is present through these antibodies. It can take a few weeks to post the transmission for the antibody test to be positive. Another analysis examines antigens or proteins produced by virus and antibodies. HIV can then be detected days post the infection. Each of these tests can precisely indicate the virus’s presence and are easily administered. AIDS is a late stage of HIV infection. There are lesser factors for clinicians to assess if HIV has progressed to stage 3. Because HIV destroys immune cells, healthcare providers count the CD4 cells in the human body. Another factor that suggests this stage HIV has developed is the presence of opportunistic infections. Opportunistic diseases are triggered by bacteria or fungi or even other viruses that would not make a person with a whole immune system suffer.

#6 Differences in Treatment and Life Expectancies

In the case HIV develops into stage 3, life expectancy falls by a considerable margin. It is tough to repair the immune system at this stage. Infections and conditions such as cancer resulting from the severe immune system being impaired are commonplace. However, with an immunity boost from antiretroviral therapy, people with stage 3 disease can live longer lives.

With the present treatment of HIV infection available, people with HIV can avert aids. Successful antiretroviral therapy and undetectable virus load lower transmission risks of the disease in HIV + people as well.

HIV And AIDS

Causes of HIV

HIV can be contracted when the virus is transmitted through bodily fluid. HIV can spread through unprotected sexual intercourse, or sharing needles, syringes or other drug equipment, tattoo equipment sans sterilization, or even mother-to-child transmission. HIV+ mothers can transmit the disease during pregnancy, labor, delivery, breastfeeding, pre-mastication. Infusion of HIV infected blood, primarily through a needle stick, can also send this virus from one person to another. The virus can also be transmitted through organ or tissue transplants. Rigorous HIV testing for tissue, organ, and blood donors ensures this rarely happens in the United States. It is theoretically possible for HIV to spread through some other means as well. Oral sex can transmit the disease if there are open sores or bleeding gums in the person’s mouth. Being bitten by a person with HIV, if saliva is bloody or public bruises are noted in the mouth, or even contact between wounds, mucous membranes, broken skin and blood of HIV+ people can transmit the virus.

However, HIV is not transmitted through skin-base contact, hugging, kissing or shaking hands, sharing foods and drinks including fountains, air-water, saliva, sweat or tears unless it mixes with an HIV+ person’s blood in some way. Sharing a toilet, towels, or bedding or being bitten by insects are also some other ways HIV is not transmitted either. Moreover, when a person with HIV is treated and has an undetectable viral load. Scientists first discovered HIV in human blood samples in the late 50s. HIV existed in the US since the 70s but hit public consciousness a decade later. AIDS is caused by HIV, although someone with HIV and opportunistic infection can also be diagnosed with AIDS.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex and during childbirth if the mother is HIV+. AIDS was first acknowledged as a distinct condition in the 80s. Health workers started finding opportunistic infections, diseases, or cancers that impacted certain people. Once people contract this virus, AIDS develops. The cause of this disease can be traced to an HIV-1 or human immunodeficiency virus or a retrovirus.

How HIV Can be Transmitted

HIV-1 is transmitted between humans through bodily fluids. This takes place in the following ways:

Pregnancy/ Childbirth

An HIV+ mother can transmit HIV to her child through breastfeeding, nursing, and childbirth.

Sexual Contact

HIV can also be passed from one individual to another through oral, anal, vaginal condomless sex. If a partner has HIV levels in the blood, which are detectable, or around 200 copies per milliliter, they have the disease.

Infected Transfusions:

The risk of passing on the virus is low in developed countries, on account of strict systems of screening.

Syringe and Needle Usage

Sharing equipment for drug injections with others raises the chances of contracting the virus. Therefore, anyone dealing with injectables, needles, or other drugs, like health workers or tattoo professionals, need to be careful. While using and disposing of needles and other sharp items, other guidelines need to be followed. Individuals who do not have HIV, but are at risk of contracting the virus can protect oneself through pre-exposure prophylaxis. Under the brand name, namely Truvada, a pill contains two medicines – tenofovir and emtricitabine, that prevents the virus from developing, if exposure takes place. As per the Centers for Disease Control, consistent prophylaxis reduces infection chances by 92%. As per the US Preventive Services Task Force, the 2019 guidelines state only those with negative HIV test results can take this preventative measure.

Leading causes of the disease include vaginal or anal intercourse with individuals who have HIV, not using condoms or prophylaxis. Sharing equipment for injectables, steroids or drugs and hormones with HIV+ individuals can be dangerous, too. Women living with HIV also are at high risk of passing the disease onto the children.

To transmit HIV, fluids should contain a virus. If the person faces undetectable HIV, however, the HIV will not be sent to another individual, even after fluid transfer. Undetectable HIV is when the virus percentage is so low in the body that blood tests cannot detect it. Undetectable levels of HIV can be attained through treatment. Confirmation and regular monitoring of undetectable status using blood tests are critical. This does not mean the person no longer suffers from HIV. Undetectable HIV depends on persons facing the virus and the treatment they take.

Progression to AIDS

The chances of HIV progressing to AIDS vary between individuals and depend on a lot of factors. This includes the individual’s age, the ability of the body to defend itself against HIV, and access to quality healthcare. Sometimes, the presence of other infections, HIV drug resistance, or even genetic inheritance resistance to certain HIV strains can help individuals avoid AIDS.

Diagnosis of HIV and AIDS

HIV AIDS Prevention and TreatmentDifferent tests can be used to diagnose HIV. Healthcare providers assess which test is suitable for the person. Antibody or antigen tests are the most commonly used. They show positive results within 18 to 45 days after the individual contracts HIV. Tests check the blood for antigens and antibodies.

Antibodies are a category of proteins the body makes to ward off infection. Antigens, on the other hand, are virus segments that activate the immune system. Antibody tests, on the other hand, check the blood for antibodies. This last between 23 and 90 days post the transmission. People develop detectable HIV antibodies present in the saliva or the blood. These tests use mouth swabs or blood tests. No preparation is needed. Specific criteria provide results in thirty minutes or less. These tests need to be performed in the healthcare clinic or doctor’s office.

Some antibody tests can also be carried out at home. For example, the OraQuick HIV test offers an oral swab that provides results in 20 minutes. Then, there’s the Home Access HIV-1 Test System. This test is used to prick the finger and send the blood for analysis to a lab. The results can be tested anonymously.

If someone suspects exposure to HIV, testing negative in the home test is not enough. They should repeat the test within three months. A positive result should be confirmed in a professional testing condition.

For specialized screening, the Nucleic Acid test is used. It helps individuals with early symptoms of HIV or known risk factors. This test detects the virus. It takes a week to 21 days for HIV to be caught in the blood. This test is generally confirmed through an antibody test.

Understanding the HIV Window

As soon as someone contracts HIV, it reproduces within the body. The immune system of the person reacts to virus antigens by producing antibodies that ward off the virus. The period between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable within the blood is the HIV window period. Most individuals develop HIV antibodies that can be detected within 90 days post the infection. If an individual takes an HIV test during a window period, they may receive a negative result. The virus can be easily transmitted to others during this time. If someone may have been exposed to HIV, but tests negative, the test should be repeated after a few months to confirm the negative HIV status. Someone testing negative at this window can undergo post-exposure prophylaxis or medicine taken post an exposure to prevent getting HIV. This preventative measure must be received no later than 72 hours post-exposure, but ideally before that. Pre-exposure prophylaxis can also help in preventing HIV. A combination of HIV drugs before potential exposure to HIV lowers the risk of contracting or spreading HIV when consistently taken. Timing is critical for HIV testing.

Diagnosis of HIV and AIDS

Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

HIV Early Symptoms

The first few weeks following HIV is known as the acute infection stage. At the time, the virus rapidly reproduces itself. The immunity responds through the production of antibodies which fight infection. Some individuals may have no symptoms to start with. However, even if there are symptoms in the month or two post the virus, it may or may not be caused by HIV. Signs of the acute stage can be similar to seasonal illnesses like flu. These can vary in intensity, effect, and period for which they last. Early HIV symptoms include chills, fever, inflamed lymph nodes, skin rash, general pains and aches, headache, GI issues like nausea, and upset stomach.

As such symptoms resemble the common flu, the person may not think they need to check with a healthcare provider. Even if they do, providers can suspect flu, mononucleosis, and HIV. Irrespective of whether a person suffers from symptoms or not, the viral load is high during this period. The viral load is the HIV amount located in the bloodstream. High viral loads imply HIV can easily be transmitted to individuals during this time.

Initially, HIV symptoms resolve within a couple of months, as persons enter the clinical latency or chronic stage of HIV. This stage can last years or decades if properly treated. HIV symptoms vary from one person to another.

HIV Latency Symptoms

Post the first month, HIV enters the clinical latency stage. This stage lasts from a few years to a decade or two. Some individuals do not have symptoms at this time, while others come with minimal or non-specific symptoms. A non-specific symptom does not pertain to specific diseases or conditions.

Non-specific symptoms can range across headaches and aches and pains, inflamed lymph nodes, persistent fevers, night sweats, fatigue, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, skin rash, oral/vaginal yeast diseases and infections, shingles, and pneumonia.

HIV is infectious at this time, even in the absence of symptoms and can be easily transmitted from one person to another. However, the person will only know they have HIV if tested. If someone develops these symptoms, when exposed to HIV, it is critical to get tested. Symptoms can be intermittent or persistent. Progression of HIV to AIDS can be slowed with treatment. With persistent use of antiretroviral therapy, chronic HIV can last for decades and does not develop into AIDS, especially if treatment began early enough.

Infections due to pathogens can lead to severe forms of HIV. Such conditions progress further in individuals with HIV than those with healthy immunity. Effectively functioning immune systems protect the body against the advanced effects of infections. HIV disrupts the process.

Sweats are an early sign of HIV, but many people do not know about the disease for years. Some individuals with HIV even don’t show symptoms years after being infected. However, a majority of around 80% of individuals develop flu-type symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome around two to six weeks after the virus gets inside the body.

Early symptoms of HIV range across joint pain, chills, fever, muscle aches, sore throat, sweats, red rash, tiredness, enlarged glands, weakness, unacceptable weight loss, and thrush. Such symptoms can also result due to the immune system fending off different viruses. Individuals who experience such symptoms and are at risk of contracting HIV should opt for rest and medical care.

HIV without Symptoms

In a lot of cases, post the symptoms of the acute retroviral syndrome, a person may be symptom-free for years. During this period, the virus may develop and trigger organ and immune system damage. Without medication to prevent virus replication, this process can gradually slow down within ten years. A person living with HIV experiences no symptoms appears healthy and feels well. Finishing a course of antiretroviral therapy disrupts this stage and results in virus suppression. Taking effective ART medicines for life can safeguard your immunity.

Late Stage HIV Symptoms

Without medicines, HIV weakens the capability to fight infections. Individuals become vulnerable to severe illnesses. This is known as Stage 3 or AIDS. Late-HIV symptoms range across GI problems that are chronic, blurring of vision, fever over 100 degrees F, dry cough, permanent fatigue, dry cough, shortness of breath, dyspnea, swollen glands for weeks, unrequired weight loss, white spots on the mouth or tongue.

During late-stage HIV infections, life-threatening, or lethal illnesses abound. Late-stage HIV treatment is critical for controlling, preventing, and treating severe conditions. Close to 90 percent of HIV patients experience skin changes; Rash is one of the first symptoms of HIV. HIV rashes appear as multiple flat small lesions are raised. HIV also makes a person susceptible to skin problems as the virus destroys immune system cells fending off infections. Infections that can cause rashes to include herpes simplex, molluscum contagiosum, shingles, besides others. The rash’s appearance, the length of time it lasts for, and the manner of treatment depend on the cause.

Late Stage HIV Symptoms

Gender Differences in HIV Symptoms

Symptoms of HIV vary across persons but are similar in women and men. These symptoms may come and go or progressively worsen. If an individual is exposed to HIV, they can also contract STDs like chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Women with HIV can also suffer from additional risks such as recurring vaginal yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, menstrual cycle changes, and human papillomavirus. This can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Another risk for HIV is that the virus can be transmitted to the child, during pregnancy. Antiretroviral therapy is safe during this time. Women who have HIV should opt for antiretroviral treatment to avoid infecting their babies.

Symptoms of AIDS

AIDS refers to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. In this condition, HIV weakens the immune system. If HIV is treated using antiretroviral therapy, AIDS will not develop. Individuals with HIV detected late or not treated using ART will develop AIDS. Also, individuals can develop AIDS if they have ART-resistant HIV. Without adequate and consistent treatment, individuals with HIV can develop AIDS quicker. The immune system is damaged at this time, and infection plus disease cannot be fought off. With antiretroviral therapy, chronic HIV infection can be maintained without AIDS for decades.

AIDS symptoms range across recurring fever, chronically inflamed lymph glands, chronic fatigue, night sweats, dark blemishes within the skin, eyelids, mouth or nose, sore, spots, mouth or tongue lesions, anus or genital sores. Additionally, there may be bumps, wounds, skin rashes, recurrent or chronic diarrhea, quick weight loss, and anxiety plus depression. Neurological problems like memory loss, trouble in concentration, and confusion are also possible. Antiretroviral therapy controls viral infection and prevents AIDS progression. Diseases and complications of AIDS can be treated. Treatment needs to be tailored to suit personal requirements. HIV and AIDS do not entail the same diagnosis. Treating HIV with antiretroviral drug therapy minimizes virus by slowing or limiting its progression. AIDS is a syndrome or set of symptoms that impact HIV+ persons who don’t receive treatment. AIDS is different from HIV and requires a distinct diagnosis, considered to be the third stage of the virus. The immune system is vulnerable to infections, and symptoms can vary greatly.

Opportunistic Infections/Diseases

CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that infections which occur more frequently and severely in those with weakened immunity is an opportunistic infection. Examples of such infections and diseases include cancers, lymphomas, carcinomas, candidiasis, cytomegalovirus, pneumonia, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, and cryptococcosis.

Two infections could occur together, including co-infections such as cryptococcal disease and TB, or hepatitis B, C and TB. The rate at which the virus progresses depends on a lot of factors. Opportunistic infections and conditions include the following:

Candidiasis

Candidiasis of trachea, esophagus, bronchi, and lungs can occur. As fungal infections usually occur in the skin and nails, this leads to severe issues such as lower respiratory tract and esophagus infections for individuals with AIDS.

Invasive Cervical Cancer

This type of cervical cancer begins in the cervix and spreads to other bodily areas. Regular checks with cancer care individuals prevent cancer or limit the spread.

Coccidioidomycosis

This is also known as Valley Fever. Inhaling a specific fungus leads to this disease.

Cryptococcosis

This disease is due to fungus infecting parts of the body. These fungi enter the brain to trigger pneumonia or cause swellings.

Cryptosporidiosis

The protozoa parasite causes this infection to trigger diarrhea and ab cramps.

Cytomegalovirus

CMV is associated with a range of bodily diseases, such as encephalitis, gastroenteritis, and pneumonia. CMV retinitis is essentially a big concern for late-stage HIV; it impacts the retina and causes blindness.

HIV-Related Encephalopathy

Acute or chronic HIV infections trigger brain disorders. It is linked to disease caused inflammation within the brain.

Herpes Simplex

This virus is sexually transmitted or passed on in childbirth. It is widespread. It does not cause an issue if your immunity is high. But in people with HIV, It can cause cold cores on the mouth and ulcers in private parts that do not resolve. HIV also impacts breathing tubes, esophagus, or lungs of individuals with AIDS.

Histoplasmosis

This fungal disease causes pneumonia-like symptoms in individuals with advanced HIV. This condition becomes progressive, disseminating histoplasmosis and impacting respiratory system organs.

Chronic Intestine Isoporaisis

This disease is caused due to contaminated water and food. It leads to fever, diarrhea, weight loss, vomiting, headaches, and abdominal aches.

Kaposi Sarcoma

This herpes virus is also called human herpesvirus 8. It is cancer triggering abnormal blood vessels within the body. If it reaches the organs, such as lymph nodes or intestines, it can be dangerous. This sarcoma appears in the form of solid purple or pink spots that are raised or flat.

Lymphoma

This is cancer of the lymph nodes and lymphoid tissues like lymphoma. Different types of lymphoma can occur, including Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin.

TB

Bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis is implicated in the disease. Droplets can be transferred if the individual with this bacteria sneezes, speaks, or coughs. HIV, coupled with TB, can be life-threatening, impacting kidneys, lymph nodes, brain, or bones.

Pneumonia

Many different infections cause pneumonia. Bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia is one of the most lethal in people facing HIV. However, pneumonia vaccines are available for individuals with this infection.

Encephalopathy

Progressive multifocal encephalopathy or John Cunningham Virus takes place in a vast number of individuals. This virus lies dormant in general. But in people with HIV or MS, the virus attacks the brain, leading to PML and triggering paralysis and cognitive difficulties.

Salmonella septicemia

Salmonella poisoning occurs due to toxic or impure food or water. It overpowers the immune system and triggers GI symptoms in HIV+ individuals.

Toxoplasmosis

This severe infection is caused due to parasites in contaminated dust or food. It can also be found in commercial meats. It triggers a severe infection in the retina, lungs, liver, heart, pancreas, testes, brain, and colon. Wear protective gloves around pets to prevent this disease.

Wasting Syndrome

This syndrome in HIV patients causes involuntary muscle mass and fat loss due to fever, weakness, or diarrhea.

Treatment

Early intervention and proper treatment plans mean those with HIV enjoy an excellent quality of life. Professionals and not just doctors can provide treatment. Persons with HIV could develop AIDS unless effective treatment is administered. Treatment consists of antiretroviral therapy/ ART and once treatment commences; it is critical to continue as drug resistance can develop. Individuals with HIV or AIDS can also use a blend of HAART or highly active antiretroviral therapy to slow viral progression. Medicines can be adjusted to suit individuals and need to be taken for life.

Treatment for HIV

Treatment should commence posting the diagnosis of HIV, irrespective of viral load. Primary HIV treatment is ART, a combination of everyday medicines to stop viruses from reproducing. This protects the CD4 cells and boosts the immunity. Antiretroviral therapy can reduce the risk of HIV transmission and AIDS progression.

If treatment is active, the viral load is undetectable. The person may have HIV, but the virus is not visible in the test results. The virus lives in the human body, though. If ART therapy is stopped, viral loads increase and HIV attacks CD4 cells.

HIV Medications

More than 25 antiretroviral therapy medicines are approved for HIV treatment. These work to prevent HIV from reproducing and destroying CD4 cells. This helps immune systems to ward of infection. It also averts HIV complications and virus transmission to others.

ART medicines are grouped into six classes:

  • NRTIs/nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • NNRTIs/ non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.
  • CCR% antagonists/entry inhibitors
  • Fusion inhibitors
  • Integrase strand transfer inhibitors

US Department of Health and Human Services recommends a starting regimen of three HIV medicines from two classes of drugs. Combinations of these drugs can prevent HIV from drug resistance. A lot of ART medicines are combined, so HIV+ people take 1-2 pills per day. Healthcare providers can enable HIV people to choose a treatment based on health and personal conditions. If medicines are not taken appropriately, viral resistance develops and a new regimen may be required. Blood testing determines if medicines are effective or not. If medicines are not impacting the CD4 count, another regimen may be tried.

Side Effects and Cost Considerations

Side effects of antiretroviral ART/therapy can be different for different people. Side effects include dizziness, nausea, headache. Symptoms are temporary and can vanish in time. Serious side effects range across swelling of the tongue and mouth, liver or kidney damage. If side effects are severe, medicines need to be adjusted.

HIV virus

Prevention

Specific steps can be taken to prevent HIV and AIDS, as listed below:

Safe Sex

Unprotected sex is the reason HIV spreads, and sex without a condom can be risky. Also ensure safe sex by getting tested for HIV, along with your partner. Get tested for other STIs, use condoms, and take medicines if directed.

Avoid Sharing Needles

HIV is transmitted through blood and contaminated materials. Avoid sharing needles, injectables, and syringes for this reason.

Consider Prophylaxis

Persons exposed to HIV should contact healthcare providers about post-exposure prophylaxis. PEP reduces the chance of contracting HIV. It comprises three ART medicines for 28 days. The PEP should be provided post the exposure before 36 to 72 hours have passed.

Choose PrEP

A person at risk of HIV should consult healthcare providers about pre-exposure prophylaxis. If consistently taken, it lowers the chance of contracting HIV. It is a combination of drugs in pill form.

Take Precautions

From testing for HIV regularly to taking precautions while pregnant, there’s a lot you can do to prevent HIV. Avoid contact with bodily fluids if you are unsure of the person’s HIV status. Prevent opportunistic infections to extend your life expectancy. Get vaccinated for diseases, avoid risky drinks and foods, and understand how pathogens can contribute to disease.

Conclusion

HIV is a complicated virus. It changes and mutates quickly. It can fend off immune system responses; The focus needs to be on broadly neutralizing antibodies to ward off HIV. But for those who succumb, there is management through ART medicines. The first vaccine efficacy study was conducted in South Africa for HIV. The experimental vaccine, an updated version of a 2009 trial vaccine, showed the virus was 31% effective in warding off HIV. While there is no vaccine to prevent HIV AIDS yet, there are vaccines to prevent opportunistic infections like pneumonia, meningitis, and shingles, besides opting for antiretroviral drug therapy.

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