Human Immunodeficiency Virus (known more commonly as HIV) is a virus that affects the body’s immune system. This virus destroys white blood cells in the immune system. Over time, the decreased white blood cell count makes the immune system of an individual weaken, making it more susceptible to other infections and diseases.
White blood cells are an important part of the immune and lymphatic system as they provide immunity and defence against diseases and infections. This makes it very difficult for the body to defend its self from foreign substances. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (more commonly known as AIDS) is the last stage of the HIV virus.
This comes later in the process of the HIV virus. AIDS symptoms come after 10-15 years after receiving the HIV virus. AIDS is when an individual’s immune system has been damaged or weakened enough for the body not be able to protect its self from infections, diseases or certain cancers.
This can be lethal as the body cannot fight or get rid of the infections it needs too. The symptoms first received from the HIV virus after contracting are very similar to the symptoms gotten from a common cold or the flu. This makes it difficult for people to check for HIV as they will mistake it for having a common cold and avoid seeing a doctor. These symptoms include fever, sore throat, headaches. Vomiting and nausea also happen, but less commonly. After about two-four weeks have passed, these symptoms will go away. This is another reason why people don’t check if they’ve contracted HIV.
An individual who has contracted HIV will not see any symptoms until the third stage of the virus. (AIDS) Even though the body is showing no symptoms, the virus is still active and is still destroying the white blood cells and the immune system. When the immune system is weakened, the symptoms get more severe. Symptoms include weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, vomiting and nausea. These symptoms also go with being susceptible to infections and diseases. The HIV virus is spread from the contact of certain bodily fluids such as semen, breast milk and blood. These can be transmitted during sexual intercourse, infected needles and syringes, ingestion of blood into the bloodstream from an infected individual or by breastfeeding. HIV can also be passed from the mother to her baby during pregnancy.
HIV can be prevented by having safe sexual intercourse, proper hygiene and avoiding open wounds of another individual. HIV can be treated with the use of medication. As HIV does not have a cure, the medication is helpful to reduce the number of times the virus multiplies in the body. This leads to people living longer and healthier. The medication taken is called antiretroviral therapy, the use of many different HIV medication to ease the symptoms and the virus.
It can also lower the risk of transmitting the disease to other people.