What Are The Symptoms Of AIDS?

What Are He Signs Of HIV?

By: - AIDS - November 21, 2011 Comments Off on What Are the Symptoms of AIDS? – What are he Signs of HIV?
what are the symptoms of aids

What Are the Symptoms of AIDS? – What are he Stigns of HIV?

Between its discovery in 1981 and 2006, AIDS has claimed the lives of more than 25million people.  The World Health Organizations (WHO) considers this disease to be pandemic, meaning that it has spread to the far reaches of the world, rather than being a localized epidemic.  It is reasonable, then, for people to want to know: “What are the symptoms of AIDS?” and “What are the signs of HIV?”.

With modern medications, including antiretroviral therapy, the early detection of HIV is the key to prolonging life after diagnoses and improving the life of those who have contracted HIV.  This article is intended to answer some common questions about HIV and AIDS, including what they signs and symptoms of this illness are.

What is HIV and What is the Distinction from AIDS?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is the virus that causes AIDS, otherwise known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.  Each person can be infected with HIV without having full blown AIDS but a person cannot have AIDS without having first contracted the virus.  Currently, there are no recorded instances of a person living with HIV not developing AIDS in the future.  However, with current treatment technology, such as antiretroviral therapy, people can be expected to live with HIV for many more years before developing AIDS than was true in the past.

How Does One Contract HIV/AIDS?

Despite how well known the disease has become, there are a still many myths floating about regarding how one catches this disease.  It is not possible to catch HIV from simply touching or being around someone who has it.  HIV is spread by bodily fluids coming in contact with other bodily fluids.  Compared to other viruses, it is relatively difficult to contract. However, as there is no cure, once contracted, there is no getting rid of it and a carrier is forever contagious.  The virus is spread through sexual contact, breast milk and blood.  To date there has never been a recorded case of AIDS being contracted from saliva, urine or tears.

Are There Different Strains of this Virus?

HIV has two strains, HIV-1 and HIV-2.  The former is the virus that was initially discovered and originally named LAV and HTLV-III.  This strain is more virulent and by far more contagious than HIV-2.  HIV-2, due to having a poor capacity for transmission, is mostly confined to West Africa.

What are Signs of HIV?

HIV is broken down into three stages: Acute Infection, Latency and AIDS.

Diagnosis during the acute phase by symptoms alone is nearly impossible as the symptoms that may present are nearly indistinguishable from a host of other illnesses.  These may include fever, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), sore throat (pharyngitis), rashes, sore muscles (myalgia), malaise and mouth and esophageal sores.  Other symptoms that may not be obvious to the patient or at an initial examination are liver and spleen enlargement, neuropathy and weight loss.   Symptoms of acute infection generally last at least a week with an average time of around 28 days.  Because the symptoms of acute HIV infection are so general and common to many other illnesses (in fact, for many it mimics mononucleosis), diagnosing HIV contraction during this early phase is difficult and best done in a lab.  Determining infection by HIV can be done by measuring the patient’s CD4+T cell count and the viral load.  As HIV-1 is associated a low CD4+T count that gets progressively lower, lab diagnosis is necessary to confirm a suspected case of HIV.  That said, a small number of individuals infected with HIV-1 will retain elevated levels of CD4+T cells without going through antiretroviral therapy.  These people are classified as “long-term nonprogressors (LTNP) or HIV Controllers.  LTNP patients do have a detectable viral level, however, and will still need antiretroviral therapy.  An even smaller group of individuals are known as ES, or Elite Suppressors, and maintain both a high CD4+T count as well as a clinically undetectable viral levels without antiretroviral therapy.

The latent phase is often largely asymptomatic and has duration as short a two weeks or as long as twenty years or even longer.  During this stage of the disease, HIV is active within the lymphatic system and often causes persistently swollen lymph nodes.  It is during this stage of the illness that early intervention with antiretroviral therapy provides the most benefit, providing a longer life-span for the infected patient.

AIDS is defined by low CD4+T cell counts (less than 200 per micro liter).  Characteristically it presents as multiple opportunistic infections (infections that healthy immune systems are generally not at risk from), cancers and other illnesses or conditions the patient suffers from as a secondary occurrence to having a nearly non-existent immune system.  CD4+T cells are a significant portion of the human body’s immune system.  It is these robust cells that normally control the body’s susceptibility to opportunistic infections.  As a result, a patient with full blown AIDS will begin to show symptoms of any number of latent diseases, such as: herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr induced B-cell lymphomas, Kaposi’s Sarcoma, shingles and other such diseases.  Patients suffering from full blown AIDS commonly develop pneumonia (caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii), cytomegalovirus (a type of herpes) or mycobacterium avium complex.   AIDS does not necessarily mean that a patient absolutely will contract these diseases and there are other diseases not mentioned here that can develop as a result of an extremely weak immune system.

How is HIV/AIDS prevented?

The best chance of stopping this pandemic is by curbing the spread of the disease in the first place.  Once a person is infected, it is extremely difficult to treat and as yet, there is no cure.  The best course of action, then, is to prevent infection in the first place.  Condoms during sexual intercourse are the only proven effective method of reducing the risk of infection during sex.   Breastfeeding without treatment should be discouraged, although breastfeeding with antiretroviral therapy reducing the risk of transmission to less than 1% while increasing the survival odds of the infant.  Needle-sharing is a long-understood risk, as is injection drug use.  Not practicing either one of those things the only way to prevent catching the disease in those situations.

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