Health

All You Need To Know About HIV

All You Need To Know About HIV

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus damages the immune system of the body making it disable to fight against the infections. This virus usually transfers through anal or vaginal sex without the use of condom. Fortunately the advanced treatment of HIV makes it undetectable, untransmissable and dormant.

Although you can treat and prevent it yet it has no cure at all. If you are suspecting an infection or exposed to it already then this blog is important for you. It entails the relevant information about HIV. So, read on to know them.

Difference between AIDS and HIV

AIDS or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is the life-threatening condition that develops when the immune system is completely damaged because of HIV. Although HIV transmits from a person to another yet AIDS cannot. With early detection and treatment, you can stay free from AIDS-oriented conditions and have a normal life.

Symptoms and signs of HIV

Many people don’t experience any symptoms of signs of HIV. Most of them get flu-like fever a couple of weeks after exposing to the infection. The symptoms involve:

  • Muscle pains
  • Joint pains and aches
  • Upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands
  • Sore throat body rash
  • Fever

Afterwards, it won’t show any symptoms for a few years. When the immune system becomes weak, the patient can’t fight against common infections like tuberculosis and pneumonia. They may get symptoms like:

  • Severe life-threatening illness
  • Several bouts of infection
  • Night sweats
  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Weight loss

As immune system has an integral role to prevent cancer development, HIV patients are more likely to develop cancers. As early as detection takes place, as more you can prevent the associated problems. Just perform the test on an earliest note while you are suspecting HIV infection.

Transmission of HIV

HIV remains in blood, vaginal fluids and semen. It transfers to other person’s blood when there is any exchange of fluids. Unprotected anal or vaginal sex is the most typical way to transmit the infection. These kinds of sex result in tearing of skin enabling access to bloodstream.

Transmission of HIV can take place through:

  • Sharing needles
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Anal sex
  • Vaginal sex
  • Oral sex (the risk is pretty low except the person with HIV ejaculates in the mouth or you have bleeding gums)
  • Breastfeeding, childbirth and pregnancy (it is quite low in UK as several steps are there to lessen the chance of HIV contraction in child. Both baby and mother are provided with antiretroviral HIV drugs, C-section for delivery and avoiding breastfeeding the baby)

Other body fluids like saliva, sweat and urine don’t have sufficed virus for infecting other persons. Even there is no chance of transmission from hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing cups and cutlery, towels, toilet seats and using same swimming pools. 

Preventive measures against HIV

Here are some ways by which you can prevent HIV infection:

  • Condoms

Both lubricant and condoms are highly efficient to prevent HIV. Condoms resist the exchange of bodily fluids and lubricants lessen the probability to tear the skin at the time of intercourse. Free condoms are available at NHS and any sexual health clinics. Even you can find it online, supermarkets and pharmacies.  

  • PrEP and PEP

PrEP pill is very effective offering almost full protection from the infection. This can be your companion if you have HIV and find the use of condoms difficult. You can get it from NHS too.

In case you exposed to the infection within last 3 days then you have to take anti-HIV medication (PEP) so that you don’t develop it. Even you can consult with your healthcare provider to know what is better to do in such scenarios.

HIV testing

You must not test for 4 weeks after exposing to the virus. To get accurate results, you should perform the test after 6 weeks of virus exposure. Test cannot find out the virus but it looks for the antibodies which the body develops for fighting against it.

HIV testing is all about collection small blood sample to analyse it in the lab. Sometimes, you need to wait a couple of days for the results but same-day test delivers instant result. When you visit any sexual health clinic for the test, a nurse will collect blood sample.

Based on the location, you can place an order for STI home test kit to perform HIV test in the comfort of your home. You can buy the kit online too but checks for CE quality assurance as poor quality kit may not be able to deliver accurate results.

Seek treatment

In case, your test for HIV (rapid HIV test or postal test) turns out to be reactive then healthcare provider will suggest confirmation test first.

When your result is positive the healthcare provider will give you support for accessing treatment, support and follow-up care. By this way, you can have a healthy life. Even you will get support to tell the partners about the infection and help them to undergo the test. Depending on the result, follow-up support and PEP will be provided to your partners too. 

Although no cure is there for HIV yet treatments can manage your symptoms and intensity of the virus leading you to have healthy and happily long life. The treatment mainly involves anti-viral medications.

By taking HIV medication you can make the virus undetectable in the body. Hence, it is impossible for the virus to transfer to your sexual partners.

What will occur if you don’t seek HIV treatment?

If you delay or don’t seek treatment for the HIV then it will weaken the immune system. As a result, you will become prone to several illnesses and infections including cancers, stroke and heart attack. Even your immune system is so compromised that you can’t have the ability to combat against them.

Treatment will improve your lifestyle and health. With proper and effective treatment there will be undetectable viral load (U=U) which cannot stream to any other persons while having sex. Therefore, you are about to enjoy a normal life like anybody else.

Support and help with HIV

When you get HIV, the local sexual health service provider and GP will assist in managing the health by providing support, advice and information about the infection.

You can seek support and help from other reputed organisations like:

  • LIVLife

Founded by the patients with PLHIV, it aims to render coherent information depending on present insight and research from the HIV communities and individuals who are willing to share their success stories.

  • Terrence Higgins Trust

Being the leading HIV charity in the UK, this trust provides support, resources and information to the patients with HIV along those who have diagnosed recently.

  • CHIVA

The mission of CHIVA ensures that families, young people and kids with HIV can survive healthily, happier and with control on own futures.

  • Positively UK

It offers advocacy, peer-led support and information to the people with HIV so that they can manage the symptoms effectively and seek care for the infection.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, if you suspect of developing an STI infection like HIV, it is better to undergo the test and seek treatment. Get in touch with a private sexual health clinic near you where you can perform the test and treatment with confidentiality and at affordable costs.

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