Spare 30 seconds of your time and find your ideal health insurance.
Valid on select insurers. T&C apply *
HIV AIDS is one of the most feared diseases worldwide, affecting both your mental and physical wellbeing. Moreover, as the facts stand presently, there is no sure shot cure for HIV AIDS. Along with that, the only available treatment measures for AIDS are used to control the symptoms and effects of the virus on the body. The main goal of AIDS medicines is to reduce the viral load in your blood, i.e., the level of HIV present in the blood. Given the permanent nature of HIV AIDS and the pressure it may introduce, it is imperative to know and understand every aspect of it. Below is a complete guide about HIV AIDS introduction, HIV AIDS symptoms, treatment procedures, and prevention measures.
In a word, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, aka AIDS, is the final stage of HIV infection. At first, understand that the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. And if HIV infection is not controlled in time, it may lead to the condition we popularly know as AIDS. So, HIV infection in a body does not necessarily mean that a person has AIDS. AIDS only come forth when the infection is left untreated or uncontrolled for a while leading to severe immune system damage. However, if the infection is controlled in its early stages, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome does not occur, and the patient can lead a normal life, following necessary precautions.
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a kind of virus that only attacks the body's immune system, weakening it over time until the infected person develops AIDS. In addition, HIV infection makes the body vulnerable to all other kinds of infections since the immune system becomes incapable of fighting off any unwanted microbes. For the worse, no vaccine or drug can effectively remove the presence of HIV from the human body. Meaning that if a person gets infected with HIV once, they will have to live with it for the rest of their lives. However, there are medicines and therapies to control the viral load of HIV; these drugs help keep the effects of HIV on the immune system under control and help prevent the further spread of the virus.
Additionally, the HIV viruses are classified into two types: HIV 1 and HIV 2, based on characteristics of viral antigens. Also, note that the genome consists of two identical RNA molecule strands encapsulated within the viral particle. The virus can enter the human body through intact mucous membranes, injured skin, or foetal transmission. As per medical opinion, most HIV infections are still transmitted sexually. Transmission of HIV through blood or other transplanted organs can occur within 5 to 6 days in the regional lymph nodes. Apart from that, transmission from the mother to the child can happen shortly before or during birth, and it is also transmissible through breast milk.
The overall prevalence of AIDS and HIV infections in the UAE is low compared to other regions around the world. WHO estimates that approximately 2,300 people in the UAE are actively living with HIV infection. Most of these infections are found in the emirates of Dubai and Sharjah, given the high density of population. As far as global stats stand, more than 15 million people actively receive HIV care. The low prevalence of high health risk viruses like HIV deems well for all, true. However, the low stats may actually result from the low reporting rate given the limited awareness and the stigma surrounding the infection.
HIV infections and AIDS are generally not included in health insurance plans, given their volatile nature. Since an HIV infection damages your immune system, you have a higher risk of sustaining other diseases which your body would have fought off in a normal situation. This makes you a very high-risk customer for the insurance company. And for the same reason, health insurance keeps HIV infections and AIDS as exclusion. However, some insurance providers in Dubai offer emergency care cover for HIV infection.
The symptoms of HIV AIDS after contracting HIV can differ as per the severity of the infection. Given below are the most prominent HIV AIDS symptoms in respect to the level of viral load in your body:
Primary HIV AIDS Symptoms
Chronic HIV AIDS Symptoms
Final Stage HIV AIDS Symptoms
Progression of HIV infection to AIDS is a lengthy procedure. A few tests can be conducted to identify the presence of the virus and identify the stage of the infection. Following are those few tests:
Diagnosis tests and markers to determine the stage of HIV infection are different from the tests used for HIV infection diagnosis. A person infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is said to have progressed to the stage where they have AIDS, upon the satisfaction of the following conditions:
The following are the four main stages of HIV infection:
Opportunistic infection is a kind of infection that is caused by opportunistic organisms. These organisms are low pathogenicity and attack people with low immunity and natural strength to fight them off. Opportunistic organisms can be of different types. The patient develops an opportunistic infection irrespective of their CD4 count. Below are some key points you need to consider about these infections:
Practising unprotected sex with someone who is already infected with HIV will lead to the transmission of the virus to a healthy person. Also, note that the transmission is possible via anal and vaginal intercourse since the exchange of bodily fluids is involved in both acts. Additionally, oral sex can also lead to HIV transmission; however, the risk is lower as compared to the other kinds of intercourses. Moreover, semen, vaginal fluids and menstrual fluids all can transmit HIV. Condoms are the only protection measure that can prevent transmission to an extent. Pay attention that anal sex is the riskiest form of intercourse when it comes to HIV transmission since the rectal lining is thinner than the vaginal lining of the body.
HIV transmission via blood transmission is very rare, or via any other kind of medical procedure for that matter. All medical providers maintain proper hygiene when dealing with blood donations and other procedures like an organ transplant. However, given that the medical professional does not maintain proper hygiene, there is a chance of transmission if the donor is HIV positive. Since HIV infection does not showcase any symptoms for many years, the infection may go undetected if the medical unit does not conduct all necessary screenings in real-time before donation.
HIV can be transmitted from a carrier mother to the baby during the course of pregnancy, labour or even breastfeeding. However, prenatal transmission can be prevented if the mother is HIV positive and has been taking the due course of medicines and treatment. Since breastfeeding can also transmit the virus, HIV positive mothers are advised not to breastfeed the baby.
Whether for drug ingestion or medical purposes, sharing needles can effectively transmit HIV from an infected person to a healthy one. Sharing needles is actually a widespread way of HIV spreading around the world. Therefore, always make sure that your medical professional uses a fresh syringe and needle as well as other equipment used in the drug injection process. Overall, maintaining proper hygiene is an easy and highly effective way to prevent HIV spread.
4 conditions must be satisfied for the infection to take place:
In addition to knowing the ways through which HIV can be transmitted, you must also be aware of the ways through which it cannot be transmitted. This is because HIV patients often face a lot of discrimination from the general public and medical care professionals solely because of a lack of awareness. Therefore, knowing the general things that cannot infect you with HIV can become a better support system for people already fighting this gruesome battle. Given below are the ways and contact points which do not transmit HIV infection:
In case you have been confirmed as HIV-positive, the best chance of preventing progression to AIDS is to initiate antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. This therapy is not a permanent cure for the HIV infection, but it helps the body keep the infection in control so that the patient can lead as close to normal life as possible. In addition, the ART prevents the virus from replicating, and it helps to slow the natural progression of the virus; however, the person needs to continue taking the treatment because missing dosages would cause the progression of the disease. So, when taken as per the prescribed dosage, ART can even bring your viral load to be undetectable. This means that you will carry negligible transmission risks and lead a normal life.
The drugs that are mainly used in the ART regimen are of the following seven types:
The decisions for the HIV treatment regimen are taken based on several factors. These factors include other afflictions that the patient has, for instance, heart disease and the potential interaction of the HIV medicines with other pre-existing prescriptions. Another factor that is taken into consideration here is resistance to drugs. If you become resistant to the current medicine you are taking, the doctor will change the prescription.
Preventing the spread of HIV to others is something one should always keep in mind. Since this is a disease that cannot be treated completely, prevention remains the only way to keep safe. Luckily, strategising to keep away from healthy people is not the only thing you can do to prevent HIV anymore. This is because technological advancements have finally allowed HIV infected people to lead a life as usual as any healthy person using advanced prevention medicines. Given below are all the ways one can prevent the spread of HIV infection:
Even with medications that can bring your general life back to normal medically, living as an HIV patient is hard. Over and above, managing to live with the stigma of having an HIV infection is much bigger than actually dealing with the infection itself and keeping it under control. Several doctors and medical professionals have reported that many HIV patients who are physically doing good succumb to the social discrimination and pressure they face in everyday life. Thus, the stigma of HIV is also one of the biggest reasons for unreported cases since people do not want to go through the rough patches. Moreover, depression, stress and anxiety prevail commonly among HIV positive patients.
Having said that, the process of standing up to such stigma is to educate yourself clearly about the whole biological process and current medical understanding. You can try reaching out to some support groups or voluntary help organisations to better understand what other HIV positive people have to deal with. Apart from that, internal support from a group of people rowing the same boat can be huge. Besides support groups, you can also take advantage of occasions like world AIDS day to spread awareness and offer support.
Furthermore, clarity about how HIV does not transmit should always be communicated since there are often several misconceptions about it. As explained above in detail, any kind of touching, kissing, sharing basic items like utensils and simply being in the company of an HIV positive person does not transmit the infection. Thus, you are safe as long as bodily fluids and blood are not exchanged. Therefore, spread awareness about these factors as much as you can as part of your social responsibility. Moreover, any patient dealing with HIV infection or AIDS require as many allies as possible.
Emotional support is also an essential part of the coping strategy. For example, if someone in your family is infected, you should not entertain any talk or activities that would further the social stigma. There is absolutely nothing to fear from physically touching a person with HIV-AIDS.
Self-blame could be a major issue with a person who is infected with HIV-AIDS, especially if the infection happens when they are young. Apart from the medical processes, it is required that the person accept the circumstances at an individual level.
As evident, it is not impossible to have a normal, healthy and happy life after getting infected with HIV. You just need to care for a few things every day and a few changes that must be bought in your life. However, necessary changes and precautions are nothing different from leading a healthy lifestyle.
What should be understood is that it is possible for people infected with HIV-AIDS to continue to lead healthy lives provided that proper care and support is available. Therefore, the focus needs to be on keeping the immune system as strong as possible through rigorous exercise, timely administration of antiretroviral therapy etc. Keeping your spirits up throughout the treatment course is also very important. Accepting yourself and making peace with your presence is the first step to leading a healthy life after HIV infection. Moreover, ask for support whenever you feel like it and try to extend the same level of help to others in a similar situation.
Q1: Does HIV stay in your blood throughout your life?
Ans: Yes, even if HIV AIDS symptoms do not surface, once infected, it remains in the bloodstream throughout your life.
Q2: How can you reduce the risk of contracting HIV?
Ans: Use condoms every time you engage in sex, and make no exceptions whatsoever. Avoid drug usage. If it is compulsory for medical purposes, make sure that it is accompanied by sterile injections and fresh needles. If you are at risk of frequent exposure, consider taking Prep medications as prescribed by the doctors. If you have already been exposed to the virus, get PEP medication started within 72 hours of exposure.
Q3: If a person is infected with HIV, how long do HIV AIDS symptoms appear?
Ans: Primary HIV AIDS symptoms might appear after an incubation period of around two to four weeks.
Q4: Can I initiate antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
Ans: Yes, Antiretroviral therapy can be safely administered during pregnancy or breastfeeding.