What is HIV and how does it affect you?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that affects cells in the body that help it fight infections, leaving a person more susceptible to other infections and illnesses. Contact with specific body fluids of an HIV-positive individual, most often during unprotected intercourse (sex without the use of a condom or HIV treatment to prevent or treat HIV), or sharing injectable drug equipment spreads the virus.
If HIV is not treated, it can progress to AIDS.
HIV cannot be eradicated by the human body, and there is no effective HIV treatment. As a result, if you have HIV, you will have it for the rest of your life.
People with HIV, on the other hand, can live long and healthy lives while preventing HIV transmission to their sexual partners by taking HIV treatment (also known as antiretroviral therapy or ART). There are other successful techniques for preventing HIV infection through sex or drug use, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) (PEP).
HIV is the source of one of humanity’s deadliest and longest-running epidemics, having been discovered in 1981.
What is AIDS and how does it affect you?
AIDS is a late stage of HIV infection in which the immune system of the body has been severely compromised by the virus.
Most patients with HIV in the United States do not acquire AIDS because they take their HIV medication on a daily basis as advised. When a person with HIV has advanced to AIDS, it means they have: The quantity of CD4 lymphocytes in their blood drops below 200 cells per cubic millimetre (200 cells/mm3). (CD4 levels range from 500 to 1,600 cells/mm3 in those who have a healthy immune system.) OR
Regardless of their CD4 level, patients get at least one opportunistic infection. People with AIDS have a 3-year survival rate if they don’t take HIV medication. When a person is diagnosed with a potentially fatal opportunistic infection, they must seek medical help immediately.
People with AIDS have a three-year survival rate if they do not take HIV medication. Without treatment, a person’s life expectancy drops to around a year after contracting a serious opportunistic infection. At this stage of HIV infection, HIV treatment can still aid patients, and it can even save their lives. People who begin antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV benefit more, which is why HIV testing is so crucial.
How To Diagnose If I Have HIV?
Testing is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. Testing is a straightforward process. You can request an HIV test from your health-care practitioner. They are also available at many medical clinics, substance addiction programmes, community health centres, and hospitals. A home testing kit can also be purchased at a drugstore or online.
Use the HIV Services Locator to find an HIV testing site near you.
Self-testing for HIV is also a possibility. Self-testing allows consumers to take an HIV test at home or in a private environment and receive their results. A self-test kit can be purchased at a drugstore or online. Self-test kits are also available for free from some health departments or community-based groups.
The FDA fact sheet on the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, which is the only FDA-approved in-home HIV test, may be found here.