How Can HIV Affect the Body?

How Can HIV Affect the Body

What effect does HIV have on the body?

HIV attacks a specific type of cell within the body of the immune system. It is known as the T-cell or CD4 helper cell. When HIV destroys that cell, fighting off other infections becomes more difficult for the body.

Even a minor infection such as a cold can be far more severe when HIV is left untreated. This is because the body is having trouble reacting to new infections.

Not only does HIV attack CD4 cells but it also uses the cells to make the virus more. HIV destroys CD4 cells by creating new copies of the virus using its replication machinery. In the end, this causes the CD4 cells to swell and burst.

When a certain number of CD4 cells are destroyed by the virus and the CD4 count drops below 200, a person will have progressed toward AIDS.

It’s important to note, however, that advances in HIV treatment have enabled many people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through contact with the following body fluids, from the most likely to lead to the least likely HIV transmission:

  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • breast milk

Sex without a condom, and sharing needles — including tattooing or piercing needles — can lead to HIV transmission. However, if an HIV-positive person can achieve viral suppression, then they will be unable to transmit HIV through sexual contact with others.

A person has attained viral suppression when they have fewer than 200 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter of blood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC).

What are the HIV-stages?

HIV is classified into three stages: acute HIV, chronic HIV, and AIDS.

HIV is not always quick to multiply. If left untreated, it may take years for an individual’s immune system to become sufficiently affected to show signs of immune dysfunction and other infections. View the symptoms of HIV on a timeline.

How does acute HIV affect the body?

The acute infection occurs immediately upon a person contracting HIV.

Symptoms of acute infection may occur days to weeks after contracting the virus. During this time, in the body, the virus rapidly multiplies, unchecked.

This initial stage of HIV can result in flu-like symptoms. Examples of those symptoms are:

  • fever
  • headache
  • rash
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • fatigue
  • myalgias, or muscle pain

Not all HIV sufferers, however, experience initial flu-like symptoms.

The symptoms of flu are due to copies of HIV and widespread infection in the body increases. During this time, the amount of CD4 cells is beginning to fall very rapidly. The immune system then kicks in, causing the resurgence of CD4 levels. The levels of CD4 may not return to their pre-HIV height, however.

The acute stage is when people with HIV have the greatest chance of transmitting the virus to others, as well as potentially causing symptoms. This is because, at this time, the HIV levels are very high. The acute stage typically takes several weeks to months to complete.

How does chronic HIV affect the body?

The chronic stage of HIV is called the latent stage or the asymptomatic stage. A person typically will not have as many symptoms during this stage as they did during the acute phase. This is because the virus isn’t multiplying as fast.

However, if the virus is left untreated, a person can still transmit HIV, and they still have a detectable viral load. The chronic stage of HIV can last many years without treatment before advancing to AIDS.

Advances in antiretroviral treatments have significantly enhanced the outlook for HIV-patients. Many people who are HIV-positive can achieve viral suppression with proper treatment and live long healthy lives.

What effect does AIDS have on the body?

According to HIV.gov, a normal CD4 count ranges from about 500 to 1,600 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (cells / mm3) in healthy adults.

A person is diagnosed with AIDS when he or she has a CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells / mm3.

A person may also be diagnosed with AIDS if he or she has had an opportunistic infection or another condition that defines AIDS.

AIDS patients are vulnerable to opportunistic infections and common infections which may include tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, and pneumonia.

People with weakened immune systems are also more susceptible to certain cancer types such as lymphoma and cervical cancer.

The rate of survival for people with AIDS varies according to treatment and other factors.

What are the factors that affect disease progression?

The most important factor that affects the progression of HIV is its ability to achieve viral suppression. Taking antiretroviral therapy regularly helps many people slow HIV progression and achieve viral suppression.

However, HIV progression is affected by a variety of factors, and some people progress faster than others through the HIV phases.

Factors affecting HIV progression may include:

Ability to achieve viral suppression. It is by far the most important factor whether someone can take their antiretroviral medicines and achieve viral suppression.

Age when symptoms begin. Being older can lead to more rapid HIV progression.

Health before treatment. If a person has other diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C or other sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs), their overall health may be affected by this.

Timing of diagnosis. Another important factor is how quickly a person became diagnosed after contracting HIV. The longer they get between diagnosis and treatment, the longer the disease has to go unchecked.

Lifestyle. Practicing an unhealthy lifestyle, such as dieting badly and experiencing severe stress, can lead to a faster progression of HIV.

Genetic history. Some people, given their genetic makeup, appear to progress faster through their disease.

Some factors may be delaying or slowing HIV progression. Including:

  • antiretroviral drugs and getting viral suppression
  • To see a health care provider for HIV treatment, as recommended
  • Stops the use of substances like ethanol, methamphetamine, and cocaine
  • Taking care of one’s health, including sex with condoms to prevent the acquisition of other STDs, minimizing stress, and regular sleep

Living a healthy lifestyle and regularly seeing a health care provider can make a big difference in overall health for a person.

How to treat HIV?

Typically HIV treatments include antiretroviral therapy. This is not a particular regimen but rather a combination of three or four drugs. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved almost 50 different HIV treatment medications.

Antiretroviral therapy works so that the virus does not copy itself. This maintains levels of immunity while slowing HIV progression.

A health care provider will consider the following factors before prescribing the medication:

  • a person’s health history
  • the levels of the virus in the blood
  • possible side effects
  • costs
  • any pre-existing allergies

There are seven classes of HIV drugs, and medications from different classes are involved in a typical treatment regimen.

Most health care providers start people with HIV from at least two different classes of drugs on a combination of three medications. These classes, from the most commonly prescribed to the less frequently prescribed, are:

  • nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs)
  • non-nucleoside/non-nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • CCR5 antagonists (CCR5s)
  • fusion inhibitors
  • post-attachment inhibitors, a new drug class not in significant use yet

How to prevent HIV?

Until the disease has progressed, HIV does not cause any outward or noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s important to understand how HIV is transmitted and how transmission is prevented.

HIV can be transmitted by:

Until the disease has progressed, HIV does not cause any outward or noticeable symptoms. That’s why it’s important to understand how HIV is transmitted and how transmission is prevented.

HIV can be transmitted by:

  • Having sex, whether oral, vaginal, or anal sex
  • Sharing needles including tattoo needles, body piercing needles, and needles used to inject drugs
  • Contact with body fluids, like semen, vaginal fluid, blood, and breast milk

HIV is not transmitted by:

  • Breathing the same air as HIV-patient
  • Bitten by a mosquito or some other biting insect
  • Hugging, holding hands, kissing, or touching the HIV-positive
  • Touching a door handle or toilet seat used by an HIV-positive person

Keeping this in mind some of the ways a person can prevent HIV include:

  • Exercising abstinence by avoiding oral, anal, or vaginal sex
  • Always use a latex barrier when having oral, anal or vaginal sex, such as a condom
  • Don’t share needles with others

Healthcare providers usually recommend that people get an HIV test at least once a year if they have previously had sex without condoms or shared needles with someone else. People suffering from past HIV exposure would also benefit from episodic testing.

If a person has been exposed to HIV in the past 72 hours, then they should consider prophylaxis after exposure, otherwise known as PEP.

People with ongoing HIV exposure can benefit from prophylaxis pre-exposure (PrEP) and regular testing. PrEP is a daily pill, and the US Task Force on Preventive Services (USPSTF) recommends a PrEP scheme for everyone at increased risk for HIV. buy prep online at safe healths online pharmacy at an affordable price.

Symptoms can take years to show up, which is why regular testing is so important.

Which is the takeaway?

Advances in treatment for HIV mean people are living with the condition longer than ever before. Testing regularly and taking good care of one’s health can cut down on transmission.

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