HIV and AIDS are some of the most feared diseases in the world. It’s estimated that 1.7 million Americans have HIV, with some not knowing they have it. This number is slowly growing. If you’re wary about HIV and AIDS, your best defense is awareness. Here are the things you need to know about HIV and AIDS.
HIV vs. AIDS
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a type of virus that attacks the immune system. As the name states, it’s a virus that only infects humans. AIDS is a severe condition of HIV, stage 3 HIV to be exact. The host’s immune system has been jeopardized that they quickly accumulate diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. A person can have HIV but not have AIDS, but a person cannot have AIDS without having HIV. So how do you contract this particular virus?
HIV infection happens when an infected individual exchanges bodily fluids with a healthy individual. Blood has the highest rate of infection, while saliva has the least rate of infection. Other bodily fluids include semen, rectal and vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Studies have looked into whether if saliva can carry HIV, most state that it doesn’t. But sometimes, blood mixed with saliva in the mouth can lead to infection.
A person with HIV is likely to receive treatment depending on what stage of HIV they have. Various treatments work for some people, and it doesn’t mean that it works for everybody. The first stage of treatment is diagnosis. There are multiple ways a person can be diagnosed with HIV.
Two tests have been known to accurately diagnose HIV: Antibody tests and the Nucleic Acid Test (NAT). Antibody tests are widely available. You can purchase an OraQuick HIV test and get results within 20 minutes. It’s 92% accurate, so there is a chance that it might not give the right result. On the other hand, NAT searches for the virus in your system, so it is very accurate but much more expensive than the Antibody test. After the person has been diagnosed, they are given medication or other forms of treatment depending on what stage of HIV they have.
The main form of treatment is through medication. If you have HIV or AIDS, you’ll be given antiretroviral therapy that will help your CD4 cells against the disease. This will keep your immune system strong enough to function. When the treatment is effective, the symptoms of the disease are virtually impossible to distinguish. But the virus is still there, and the moment therapy stops, it can once again attack the immune system. Therefore, some individuals with HIV might have to be under therapy for the rest of their lives.
There Is No Cure
Sadly, despite our great strides in medical technology, pharmacology, and research, we still have to determine a cure for HIV. Some of the treatments we have discussed have proven effective, but only to a given population or individual. This means that some treatments can vary from others, and while some might be effective on one person, they might not be effective on another. Another reason why there isn’t a cure for HIV is that we still need to do hundreds, maybe thousands more research regarding the immune system of every culture in the world.
Not Enough Research Data
HIV and AIDS are still both unfamiliar topics despite being researched for many years. The main reason for this is that it is a particularly recent virus. It was only during the 1920s when HIV jumped to humans from chimpanzees, and it was only during the 1980s when we started to pay close attention to it. Furthermore, when you compare that to other diseases out there, it’s still quite new. Many researchers are looking for healthy participants for research, and it doesn’t mean that they’ll infect you with the virus.
As stated earlier, exploring our immune system is our focal point when it comes to understanding the disease. Some researchers will look into the immune system of people from various cultures, countries, and lifestyles. Ultimately, research panels for recruitment for HIV will mainly look into demographics they haven’t explored yet.
So don’t worry about it! As a healthy individual, you can contribute to the given knowledge we have against this dangerous disease. You can also get various incentives for participating, such as cash and gift cards, free to use at your leisure.
Prevention is always better than cure, and in the case of a virus as severe as HIV, it’s important to be well-informed. Be careful with your intimate partners, and also be careful with using medical devices such as syringes. Remember that HIV infections don’t just happen during intimate interactions but during our daily lives as well. Keep yourself protected when you leave home by wearing clothes that cover various parts of your body. By doing all of these things, you can prevent yourself from becoming infected by HIV.