HIV Treatment, Symptoms, Causes & Prevention
Vanakkam, Namaste, and Welcome to Dr. Shah’s Clinic for Male Infertility & Sexual Health. In this article, I am going to tell you everything under the sun about Syphilis Treatment. We are also going to discuss HIV treatment, diagnosis, and its management. As a practicing sexologist doctor in Chennai, I have seen numerous patients suffer from HIV due to an improper diagnosis or in some cases missing the diagnosis altogether.
On this page, we going to answer some very common questions about this notorious disease. Read on!
What is HIV? Are HIV & AIDS the same?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus spreads through sexual intercourse and is more common among men who have sex with men. Transmission rates are higher from men to women as compared to women to men. The virus is an RNA virus and specifically affects the body’s CD4 T+ helper cells. These CD4 cells are highly critical in maintaining the body’s overall immunity. An image of a T-helper cell is given below.
Once the virus destroys these cells, an acquired state of deficiency results leading to multiple infections & malignancies occurring due to other micro-organisms, a condition called AIDS results. In AIDS, which is basically the last stage of HIV infection, a person no longer has the resources to fight off infections
What are the stages of HIV?
HIV infection typically progresses in multiple stages. HIV treatment with antiretroviral therapy can help patients in all suspected stages of the disease.
Moreover, HIV treatment also reduces/slows the progression of disease stages from one to another. Not just that, HIV treatment effectively prevents the transmission of infection to the partner, especially when viral loads are at low to undetectable levels.
So, bearing this in mind, the HIV infection typically proceeds through the following stages
A. Acute Infection –
In this stage of HIV infection, the patient may have flu-like symptoms. However, a large number of patients usually do not have any manifest symptoms. Moreover, in this stage patients can be very contagious and carry a large amount of the virus in their blood stream.
B. The Dormant of HIV Latency stage
In this stage, the virus remains silent and the patient can remain infectious for decades. Studies show that the HIV virus hides from the body’s immune system by colonizing the gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT). But, if the patient begins anti-retroviral medications, and keeps the viral load low, the risk of disease transmission becomes very less. However, in the absence of taking in the medications, the patient can develop AIDS and progresses to the third stage of the disease.
C. AIDS – the final stage
The last stage of the disease is called AIDS, and in these patients, the immune system is severely damaged. Patients with HIV if left untreated progress to AIDS rapidly within 3 to 5 years. Patients commonly report symptoms like fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and loss of weight.
Opportunistic infections are also common during this phase. A diagnosis of AIDS is usually given when the CD4 cell count drops below<200.
before jumping into this section, let me tell you the different modes through which HIV DOES NOT SPREAD.
- HIV does not spread through sharing toilets, food or drinks
- HIV does not spread through saliva, sweat, tears or closed-mouth kissing
- Lastly, HIV does not spread through air, water or pets
So how does HIV spread?
The common modalities of HIV spread include largely sexual intercourse and the sharing of needles. Studies suggest that the HIV virus can survive up to 42 days in syringes
Common modalities of HIV spread from an infected individual include
- Penetrative sexual intercourse
- Anal intercourse especially in men who have sex with men
- Breast milk from infected mother to infant
- Sharing of needles
- Open mouth kissing where blood is exchanged from sores or bleeding gums.
- Eating food that is pre-chewed by a patient with HIV
- Being bitten by a person with HIV
- Lastly, through oro-genital sex (although this is rare)
Is there a connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
Here is an interesting fact,
You are about 3 times more likely to get HIV if you have another STD
Common STD’s that can accelerate the acquisition of an HIV infection include conditions like
- & Hepatitis B
Infections like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea or Syphilis can cause easier entry of the HIV virus into the bloodstream. Moreover, the vice versa is also true, other std’s like hepatitis B and Genital herpes also spread among HIV patients faster.
When visiting an STD clinic, it is wise to get tested for all the aforementioned infections along with HIV.
HIV treatments are exceedingly well proven. While there is no clinical cure as such for the infection, taking treatment definitely prolongs the lifespan of the patients. HIV treatments usually involves the use of Anti-retroviral medications a combination of 3 pills. In India, these dugs are distributed free of cost to patients in the state run government hospitals.
However, a large number of private setups also do testing, screening, and patient referral. Treatment guidelines as per the US department of health and services are exceeding up to date and accurate on the choice of ARV regimens to be used across different subpopulations.
A number of strategies are available for preventing HIV infection. Of course, the best strategy is to restrict the number of sex partners and strive towards a monogamous relationship. New preventive strategies include the use of ARV medications like Post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV. These medications should be taken within 24 hours of contact for maximum efficacy.
Of course, one must not forget that the age-old condom is still one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infections. However, please bear in mind condoms still do NOT guarantee a 100% protective strategy. Given below is a quick infographic for you on the right ways to use a condom
All said and done,
following safe practices can definitely lower your chances of getting a HIV infection.
The age old saying
‘Prevention is better than cure’ applies best to this notorious disease. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. This is Dr Shah, consultant andrologist in chennai. Please do share this article to all your freinds and loved ones.
If you are worried about HIV,do get in touch with us below
Dr. Shah’s Clinic for Male Infertility & Sexual Health
No 5, Hindi Prachar Saba Rd, Parthasarathi Puram, T. Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017
Ph – +91-9790783856