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All Your Questions About HIV AIDS Answered

All Your Questions About HIV AIDS Answered

Did you know that India has the third largest HIV AIDS epidemic with over 2.1 million people living with HIV? While there is a gradual increase in awareness but misconceptions about HIV AIDS further increases the risk of transmission. Well, the first step to a healthier life with HIV is to be aware of its symptoms for proper treatment. Here’s all you need to know about HIV AIDS.  

What is HIV AIDS?
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a chronic life-threatening condition that is caused by HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). HIV is a virus that attacks the cells that helps the body to fight infections. Presence of HIV virus in the body makes the person more prone to other infections and diseases. Over time, if left untreated HIV AIDS weakens the immune system and increases the risk of life-threatening health ailments. 

What are the signs and symptoms of HIV AIDS?
The symptoms of HIV AIDS depends upon the phase of infection. In some cases, people experience flu-like illness in the first two to four weeks after contracting the virus. These are accompanied by symptoms like fever, severe headaches, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes on the neck, diarrhoea, weight loss, cough, night sweats as well as joint pains.

With time, the presence of HIV infection in the body further weakens the immune system that causes swollen lymph nodes, chronic diarrhoea, weight loss, unexplained fatigue, oral yeast infection, shingles and pneumonia. If left untreated for a longer period, it develops into severe illness like tuberculosis (TB), cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections, and cancers such as lymphomas and Kaposi's sarcoma.

What are the common tests for HIV AIDS?
The best way to diagnose HIV is through rapid diagnostic tests that provide same-day results. Additionally, people can even use self-test kits for HIV diagnosis. Most HIV diagnostic tests detect antibodies produced by the immune system to fight the HIV infection. 

How does HIV AIDS spread?
HIV is a virus that spreads by the exchange of bodily fluids from infected people, including blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal secretions. HIV AIDS is commonly transmitted through sexual intercourse, sharing needles with an HIV positive person, blood transfusions and it even spreads from a mother to child during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding. 

What are the risk factors of HIV AIDS?
Over the years HIV AIDS has affected millions across the globe. The risk factors include:
- Having unprotected anal or vaginal sex
- Having STIs ( sexually transmitted infections) like syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and bacterial vaginosis
- Sharing contaminated needles, injecting equipment etc. 
- Unsafe blood transfusions, tissue transplants and medical procedures that involve unsterilized syringes, piercing and injections

What preventive measures can be adopted for HIV AIDS?
While there is no cure for HIV AIDS but it can be suppressed with timely treatment via antiretroviral therapy. A few preventive measures can be adopted to limit the exposure to HIV AIDS including:
Timely tests for tuberculosis:
Tuberculosis is one of the most common diseases for people with HIV. Timely tests and early detection of tuberculosis helps in timely preventive therapy and treatment. 
Voluntary male circumcision:
WHO recommends male circumcision for men over the age of 15 years for additional prevention intervention in transmission. While being a key prevention measure for HIV transmission, it also reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted infections. 
Be vocal with your sexual partners:
The first step to steer clear of STIs and HIV is to communicate well with your sexual partners. Along with it, having protected sexual intercourse by using condoms to prevent HIV transmission is advised.
Use treatment as prevention:
Research claims that the use of antiretroviral therapy in HIV positive people suppresses the transmission of the HIV virus to their uninfected sexual partners. 
Use post-exposure prophylaxis:
In case a person is exposed to HIV virus via sexual intercourse, needles or at the workplace, taking oral post-exposure prophylaxis within 72 hours reduces the risk of contracting the disease. It’s advised to consult a doctor for proper prescription of post-exposure prophylaxis if a person is susceptible to contracting the HIV virus. 
Always make sure to use a sterilized needle:
If you are a frequent user of the needle for injecting drugs, it’s advised to make sure that the needles and injections are sterilized. Additionally, always keep a tab on the needle used for injections making sure that it’s never shared. It helps in preventing the transmission of the HIV virus. 
Have a complete checkup for safe pregnancy:
HIV virus can be transmitted from an HIV positive mother to the child during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding. A medical checkup is advised to rule out the risk of transmission with a timely dosage of antiretroviral drugs. 
Testing and counselling for HIV AIDS and STIs:
Getting checkups for HIV and STIs is advised for those exposed to any of the risk factors. This allows people to know about their HIV status for timely treatment without any delay. 

By: Navreet Kaur | on 2020-12-01

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