Human immunodeficiency virus

Other names: HIV/AIDS

DEFINITION AIDS

(acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body's ability to fight disease-causing organisms. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection that can also be spread through contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

SYMPTOMS

CAUSES

RISK FACTORS

Complications: HIV weakens the immune system making individuals susceptible to various infections like tuberculosis, salmonellosis, cytomegalovirus; and cancers like Kaposi's sarcoma and lymphomas.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Before seeing a healthcare provider:

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS HIV

is commonly diagnosed by testing blood or saliva for antibodies to the virus. Tests include CD4 count, viral load measurement, drug resistance testing, and screening for complications.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

There's no cure for HIV/AIDS but antiretroviral drugs can control the virus. Treatment involves a combination of drugs from different classes targeting the virus in various ways. Starting treatment is recommended based on certain criteria.

Lifestyle and Home Remedies: To prevent HIV transmission:

ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

Some supplements may help manage side effects of anti-HIV drugs while others can be harmful. Fish oil and whey protein may be beneficial while St. John's wort and garlic supplements can interact negatively with anti-HIV medications.

COPING AND SUPPORT

Receiving an HIV diagnosis can be challenging emotionally, socially, and financially. Various services are available including counseling, social support, assistance with healthcare needs, employment issues, housing support among others.


QUESTIONS

  1. What is AIDS?

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a chronic condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

  1. How does HIV progress to AIDS?

HIV weakens the immune system by destroying CD4 cells leading to severe immune deficiency known as AIDS.

  1. What are the symptoms of primary HIV infection?

Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph glands among others.

  1. How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through infected blood or bodily fluids during unprotected sex, needle sharing, pregnancy/delivery/breastfeeding from an infected mother.

  1. What are some common complications of HIV/AIDS?

Complications include opportunistic infections like tuberculosis and cytomegalovirus; cancers like Kaposi's sarcoma; wasting syndrome; neurological complications; kidney disease among others.

  1. When should treatment for HIV be started?

Treatment should be started if there are severe symptoms present or if CD4 count is below 350 among other criteria such as pregnancy or presence of opportunistic infections.

  1. How can one prevent the spread of HIV?

Prevention methods include consistent condom use during sex, avoiding needle sharing for drug use, early medical care during pregnancy if infected with HIV among others.

  1. Are there alternative treatments for managing side effects of anti-HIV drugs?

Some supplements like fish oil and whey protein may help manage side effects while others like St. John's wort and garlic supplements can interact negatively with anti-HIV medications.

  1. What support services are available for individuals with HIV/AIDS?

Services include counseling, social support networks, assistance with healthcare needs like transportation to appointments or housing support among others.

  1. Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?

Currently there is no cure for HIV/AIDS but antiretroviral drugs can help control the virus effectively.