HIV Basics: Stages of HIV
You may not see HIV symptoms uniform in patients as it varies with individuals. In some cases, the patients do not show any symptoms for many years. With time, and without dedication to treatment, the immune system succumbs to the virus. Although there is no cure for HIV, the available medicine (antiretrovirals or ARVs) prevent it from advancing to AIDs. With the ARVs, individuals who were tested positive for the virus are able to live longer healthier lives as well as limit the chances of transmission and spread. The process involves 3 basic steps with varying effects.
Acute Primary Infection
Between one and four weeks after infection, some individuals may experience symptoms resembling the flu. This is obviously not a reliable method of determining whether you may be infected with HIV. It is advisable to always visit a doctor for testing whenever you feel exposed regardless of the symptoms. For those who test positive, symptoms proceed to fever, body rash, swollen glands, and sore throat. Other symptoms easily ignored are headaches, joint aches, and stomach aches.
As the body reacts to the virus for a few months, the foreign cells spread throughout the bloodstream. The immune system fights by producing HIV antibodies. HIV test may give different results at this point so it is advisable to visit the clinic regularly and use one type of test.
The Asymptomatic Stage
Here, the patient feels better after the first stage is complete. It may take between 10 and 15 years without any significant signs. This period depends on the age of the person and health. Behind the scenes, the cells are active, multiplying, replicating and infecting new cells. This process completely damages the immune system.
The Symptomatic HIV Infection
With significant damage to the immune system, the patient is vulnerable to serious infections, bacterial and fungal diseases. These infections are normally containable and easily fought off with an immune system that is intact. It is characterized by weight loss, chronic diarrhea, fever, cough, skin issues and regular infections.
There are multiple infections and diseases including viruses that can cause rashes; HIV is one of them. Rashes as a result of this virus occur in the first two months after you contract HIV. There is a high chance of mistaking them with any other skin infection as a cause of allergy or other infections. But HIV rashes are unique. It is important to note its characteristics to be able to ascertain whether they are of the virus or not. Although it's not treatable, early diagnosis and management of the virus give patient higher chances of survival with the HIV. Therefore, it is important to identify the rashes as they surface and seek medical attention. Rashes are either a condition caused by the disease or side effects of medications used.
Medication on HIV rashes
Skin rashes are mainly caused by the virus interference with cells and tissues of the body. At the time, drugs used to improve the immune system and fight the virus in a human body react with ordinary human cells resulting in skin rashes. The drugs, antiretroviral, are manufactured by different companies hence the variation in components. While the ingredients are the same, the percentage of each element in the drug may differ to achieve different treatment levels. Thus, some are more likely to lead to rashes while some will not. Here are the three types of antiretroviral drugs that cause rashes:
- >>Protease inhibitors
- >>Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- >>Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
These details are usually listed on product description of every drug. It is a medical standard practice and regulatory policy that all medicine manufacturers follow. Be sure to take these details in the account and consult with a doctor before using any of them.
HIV rash Appearance
Irrespective of the cause of the rashes, HIV rashes are red in color usually flattened on the body. You will likely experience itching as they start to surface on the skin. The itching might prolong as long as they exist. Typically, the rashes appear on the face and chest. Sometimes they extend to the hands and feet. The small red bumps should not be confused with normal rashes. Consistent itching and rashes on your body lead to mouth ulcers. Whether it is a medication side effect or conditions of the virus, consult with your doctor for a suitable treatment guide.
HIV Rash severity
Most of HIV rashes are mild and are not much of a worry except the itching and stigmatization when in public. However, there are different types of rashes that behave differently on the human body. Others have mild to the extent that you can ignore the itching because it is not a bother while others tend to be severe. Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is one of the deadly rash types that is caused by antiretroviral drugs. The rashes with this condition spread at least 30% of the human body. They are known to cause significant damage when persistent and untreated.
The common characteristics of SJS are;
- >>Quickly developing rash
- >>Tongue swelling
- >>Blisters on mucous membrane and on the skin
HIV Rash treatment
Treatment advancements in a bid to control spread and intensity of the virus cannot be underestimated. Today, people live in a healthy condition while with the virus. Awareness of elements of the virus with respect to how it spreads, symptoms, prevention and possible treatments have reduced stigmatization in society. A few decades back when HIV was discovered in a clinical test, the fear and stigmatization were traumatizing enough to kill a patient. Then, rashes were highly dreaded. This is not the case today. In fact, rashes are slightest concerns of people living with the virus.
Medication is the most common form of treatment in managing HIV rash. You can get over-the-counter drugs such as diphenhydramine or hydrocortisone cream from a pharmacy to sort out your itching issues. The drug depends on the type and severity of the rash thus the importance of consulting with a doctor.
Additionally, avoiding direct sunlight and hot showers can also help in reducing rash size and itchiness. Rashes are sometimes a result of medication change thus an allergy that can be stopped by changing drugs.
HIV Basics: Transmission and Virus Survive
Human Immunodeficiency Virus was discovered in the early 1980s. It belongs to the retroviruses group. Since it is discovery, the virus has spread fear across the globe because of its effects on the human body. HIV attacks CD4 or T-cells, which are crucial in the immune system in the human body. Once HIV gets into the human body, it attacks these cells and completely destroys them by quickly multiplying thus overpowering the human cells. As the HIV cells continue multiplying, it spreads to other body tissues and destroys adjacent cells in the same way. Domination of the virus among body cells destroys and weakens the immune system hence its inability to fight HIV infections. The body becomes vulnerable to the slightest infections.
Without treatment and managing the virus, the immune system deteriorates and illness becomes a common thing to the body. Typically, people without proper treatment develop AIDS, a syndrome of HIV. However, there exists treatment for the virus that focuses on boosting functions and power of the immune system to fight the virus. While the virus has been a killer disease for decades, people are managing to live with it for long years in the modern world.
When HIV is present in a human’s body, it can be traced to various places in the body. It is crucial to notice these facts it is a deadly disease (even with treatment) that you should be cautious and avoid. Either way, any disease should be avoided. The human body and immune system should stay healthy to function naturally as designed. Usually, the virus thrives in mucous membranes, these are;
- Vaginal fluid
- Breast milk
- Semen and pre-semen fluid
- Blood including menstrual fluids
- Rectal secretions.
Relating closely to an individual with respect to these fluids and mucous membranes exposes you to infection. The virus is easily passed through fluids.
Any activity that exposes sharing of fluids is dangerous for our immune system with regards to HIV. Injections, knives, cosmetic tools, shaving machines among others should well be sterilized to ensure no virus lives. If possible, do not share such appliances. Saliva is also a body fluid that can expose you to this infection. While this is dependent on wounds in the two mouths, be sure before engaging in kissing. Breast milk can also infect an infant. The common transmission mode is when you engage in sex with an HIV positive individual.
The casual transmission of HIV is a common fear in society. People coming into contact with spilled body fluids that include semen, blood, and sweat raise questions about whether they are at risk of getting infected. While we should all be careful when it comes to handling body fluids, it is important to note that HIV does not survive for long. There is no exact time limit in relation to the virus’ survival. The fact that spilled body fluids are exposed to air; the moisture content reduces thus reducing viral levels and power in the fluid. While the virus may survive for few minutes if not seconds, its infectious level is zero. However, is the fluid is inside a container, for instance, a syringe; the virus can remain active for an extended period. This is why reusing syringes is highly discouraged with regards to HIV transmission.
HIV virus is sensitive to high temperatures that interfere with its infectious compounds as opposed to extremely cold temperatures. In fact, studies show that the virus can survive in dry blood when at room temperature up to seven days. At least 40 degrees is required to effectively kill the virus. In syringes, the virus is said to survive for at up to 4 weeks. Also, sewage does not pose a threat to HIV; the virus survives for as long as it takes in faces and urine until it can find a body to go to.
The virus has also been recovered from dead bodies. When in cold temperatures in the morgues, which is usually at 2 degrees, the virus survives for at least 11 days. It is also highly sensitive to acidic and alkalinity levels thus it cannot survive in seawater like other viruses.
Currently, HIV is far from the death sentence that it was in the 1990s. In those years, having a positive status meant an end to ones dating life. Over the years, however, we have managed to see a reversal in this trend. Many HIV positive people are actually dating, and the stigma that was associated with the status has decreased to the bare minimum.
There are however some issues when it comes to HIV positive dating. Some states within the United States actually criminalize the act of exposing someone to the risk of contracting HIV. Well, the first step in most cases is disclosing the status. This, however, may be quite hard for some people. It is estimated that there are many HIV positive people but are unaware of their status. In as much as dating may be hard for HIV singles, it is still a possibility and it happens all the time in the current world.
HIV and Smoking: Avoid The Trigger
HIV is the Human Immune Deficiency virus, while AIDs is the disease that is caused by the virus. As such, many people use both terms interchangeably to refer to the disease that occurs as a result of the virus. There are many ways that this virus can be acquired, ranging from unprotected sexual activities, dangerous habits such as intravenous drug use to very harmless methods such as during birth or breastfeeding (in the case of pregnant women and nursing mothers who are positive for the virus). Before we understand how smoking and HIV are related, we will need to have some understanding of how the virus damages the body, and the immune system.
The immune system
The virus has different methods by which it causes harm to the body. Key among these is the way it destroys the cellular components of the immune system. This is the system that acts against any foreign particles and germ (such as bacteria) to protect us from getting sick. This system comprises of the humoral factors, which are antibodies and other chemical compounds produced by cells in the body. The other component is the cellular part of the immune system, which comprises T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes macrophages, and dendritic cells.
How the virus causes damage
The HIV virus will only thus destroy the T lymphocytes of the immune system, which express the CD4 molecule which is the receptor for the entry of the virus into the cell. This kind of damage to the immune system makes the person ‘fragile’ and more susceptible to infections. It is important to note that these people should have normal lives and should not be discriminated against, as this is just a disease like any other.
Smoking increases the risk of many ailments
Smoking will increase the risk of one getting many ailments, such include lung cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Studies have been conducted on how smoking affects the lives of people who are living with HIV. These studies have shown that when such people smoke, there are increased risks associated. These risks are more than that of smoking in the general population. Smokers with HIV would represent other outbreaks besides typical HIV symptoms.
HIV smokers have a significant chance of lung cancer
Also, the severity of these effects may be worse than in the general populace. Such include a higher risk of developing lung cancer, cancers of the head and neck, anal and cervical cancers as well as many other cancers and neoplasms. They are also more likely to develop infections, such as bacterial pneumonia and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia which is considered an opportunistic infection.
Smoking makes life shorter for HIV positive people
When these people who have HIV smoke, they increase the chances that the antiretroviral medication they get may not work. Their chances of getting life-threatening illnesses are high since they have a compromised immune system. HIV pos singles and smoke have been estimated to have led shorter lives than HIV singles but did not smoke. Quitting smoking actually helps improve quality of life and avoid infections.
Top Signs That You May Have HIV: weight loss, fever, fatigue…
There is only one way that you can be really sure of your HIV status, by getting tested. The virus can cause various symptoms to someone who has contracted the infections, although sometimes these signs do not easily show up. However, HIV infections occur in three common stages: the acute HIV infection stage, chronic stage, and full-blown AIDs.
These symptoms get worse over time and they tend to overwhelm a person’s immune system. However, speaking nowadays about your HIV status to your partner when you are dating, has become quite a common thing, with reduced cases of HIV stigmatization. This has enabled the creation of awareness regarding this virus which has assisted in educating the public about the common symptoms of this disease.
More and more HIV single people are coming out in this era opening up about their HIV statuses, and most HIV communities are giving them all the support they need-be it physically, mentally or financially. This has led to the advent of such things as the HIV dating sites which has allowed people affected by this virus to come and interact with each other. This has, in turn, led to the creation of an effective HIV dating community globally, which has allowed infected individuals to find spouses among each other and develop strong families.
Although such things as dating HIV positive gay practices have led to an increased spread of this virus- considered as a very risky sexual behavior. However, in this article, we are going to concentrate solely on the symptoms of HIV, some of which may aid you in knowing if you have it, or maybe a friend or family.
Here are some of the top signs, which are overlooked most of the times, that you may have HIV:
Weight loss is actually one of the most common sign that you have contracted HIV, though at other times this symptom may appear at advanced stages- this is highly due to severe diarrhea. Losing weight rapidly has been highly associated with a weak immune system, and as it is commonly known, HIV is an infection which aggressively attacks the immune systems of its victims. Experiencing weight loss coupled with body weakness or diarrhea for almost a period of 30 days is a common indication that you have HIV.
Mild fever, which reaches up to 102 degrees Celsius, is one of the most common early signs of having HIV infection. When the fever occurs, it is usually accompanied by mild symptoms such as swollen lymph glands, sore throat or in most cases fatigue. According to medical research, fever appears as a result of the HIV virus entering the bloodstream and beginning to replicate in large quantities, which results in an inflammatory effect by the immune system.
This symptom occurs during both the early and late stages of HIV. The inflammatory reaction by a person’s overwhelmed immune system is one of the reasons that HIV victims begin feeling tired and lethargic. Most of those infected have reported that they started feeling tired suddenly, getting tired faster from doing a very easy task, or from walking a short distance. So if you start to experience a feeling of fatigue which continues over a long period of time, go to a clinic and get tested as early as possible.
Achy muscles, swollen lymph nodes, and achy joints
Another top sign of HIV infection is experiencing very excruciating pains and swelling in the joints, muscles and the lymph nodes. These symptoms can at most times be mistaken for other infections such as the flu, syphilis, mononucleosis or hepatitis. Lymph nodes, commonly located at the neck, groin and armpit regions, get inflamed whenever a person is infected. Therefore it is very important that when you experience such signs you go and get tested.
These rashes can occur at an early or advanced stage of this infection. These rashes may appear like boils, with some itchy regions around the armpits, which are pink in color. These rashes may also appear on the rest of the body parts such as chest, arms, at the back, neck, just to mention a few. When strange skin rashes appear, especially in plenty, be aware, that is a red flag that you may have HIV.
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Most people infected with HIV have reported having experienced short-term diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea in the primary stages of this infection. These symptoms may also be as a result of opportunistic diseases, which causes a weakened immune system. However, these specific symptoms cause a person’s body to lose lots of water and nutrients, playing a huge part in the loss of weight.