Human Immunodeficiency Virus aka HIV is an infection that weakens the body’s capability and if left untreated, it can also lead to immunodeficiency syndrome aka AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely. Thus once you obtain HIV, you have it for life.
HIV attacks the body’s immune system, particularly the T cells, which aids the immune system fight off infections. If left untreated, HIV decreases the number of T cells in the body which makes the person more probable to get infections or infection-related cancers. In due time, HIV destroys numerous of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and indication that the person has AIDS, the last state of HIV infection.
Currently no effective cure for HIV has been found, but with proper medication and treatment, HIV can be controlled. Antiretroviral therapy or ART, the medicine used to treat HIV, if taken the right way, every day, can dramatically extend the lives of many people with HIV, keep them healthy, and most importantly lower their chance of transmitting the virus to others. Today if a person who is diagnosed with HIV can live a nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV if treated before the disease is far advanced, and stays on treatment. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. The testing procedure is quite simple. You can ask your healthcare provider for an HIV test. You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online. The most common HIV test is the antibody screening test (immunoassay), which tests for the antibodies that your body makes against HIV.
How this virus did came to existence?
Scientists had acknowledged HIV infection in humans was transmitted from a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus, simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV, most likely transmitted to humans came in contact with their infected blood when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat. Studies show that HIV may have transmitted from apes to humans as far back as the late 1800s. Over time, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world.
HIV only be transmitted only through specific activities, it is not spread easily. Usually, people get HIV through sexual behaviours, needle or syringe use. Only certain body fluids from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV such as blood, semen, Pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids and breast milk. These body fluids either must come into contact with a mucous membrane (which are found inside the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth) or damaged tissue or be directly injected into your bloodstream (via a needle or syringe) for transmission to take place. Since HIV cannot not last long outside the human body (such as on surfaces) and it cannot reproduce outside a human host.
Thus, it is not spread by: air or water, mosquitoes, ticks or other insects, saliva, tears, or sweat, by shaking hands, hugging, sharing dishes/drinking glasses/toilets, or closed-mouth aka “social” kissing with someone who is HIV-positive.
Symptoms of HIV can include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Recurring fever or profuse night sweats
- Intense and inexplicable tiredness
- Swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
- Diarrhoea lasting for more than a week
- Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
- Red, brown, pink, or purplish marks on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
- Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders.
However, every single of these symptoms can also be related to other diseases as well. So the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.