With Proper Treatment, People Can Live Long, Healthy Lives with HIV

With Proper Treatment, People Can Live Long, Healthy Lives with HIV

13:31 24 July in Diagnosis, Health, Medicine, Uncategorized

More than 38 million people around the world live with HIV or AIDS, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). About 1.5 million were diagnosed in 2021, their last year of full data at this time.

Healthcare professionals have a much greater understanding of HIV than they did just a generation or two ago. With this greater understanding comes more effective treatments that mean HIV can be a chronic, long-term condition that can be well managed with medication – and people with HIV can enjoy long, healthy lives.

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, destroys white blood cells that help your body fight infection. This weakens the body’s immune system and makes it more vulnerable to disease.

Some people who get HIV will experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, fatigue, night sweats, mouth ulcers, and chills. These symptoms usually only occur within the first two to four weeks following infection, which is the period called acute HIV. Some people, though, will experience no symptoms at all.

An HIV test is the only way to diagnose HIV, and it can be done through a blood or saliva test by a health care provider. If someone tests positive, they can undergo additional tests that will determine their stage of HIV and the best possible treatment for it.

How Does HIV Spread?

HIV most commonly spreads through unprotected sex with a person who has HIV. It can also spread through shared drug needles or through contact with HIV-positive blood. A baby can also contract HIV from a parent during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.

Can Someone Prevent HIV?

A medication called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) can drastically reduce the risk of contracting HIV in people who have an increased risk for HIV. (For example, if someone does not have HIV but their partner is HIV positive.) Using safe sex methods, not sharing needles, and getting regularly tested for HIV will help prevent the spread of the disease as well.

How is HIV Treated?

While there is no cure for HIV, there have been great advancements in medications – specifically, antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is the most effective treatment. If someone tests positive for HIV and begins ART, they can control their HIV, support their immune system, and prevent transmission. It’s important to take ART as prescribed for it to be effective. If someone begins ART, they should talk with their healthcare provider about possible side effects. Complimentary medicine can help alleviate the side effects that can occur with ART.

If someone with HIV decides against taking ART immediately, they should get regular checkups with a healthcare professional to monitor the health of their immune system and the amount of HIV in their blood.

Can People Live Long Lives with HIV?

Yes. If someone with HIV begins ART as soon as possible after they contract the virus, they can manage their HIV and support their immune system. They should talk with a healthcare provider to make sure that their treatments, diet, and lifestyle supports their long-term health.

What is AIDS?

If HIV goes untreated, it can progress into AIDS, the final stage of HIV. With AIDS, the immune system becomes badly weakened so people become very vulnerable to sickness and infection. Not everyone with HIV will develop AIDS. Although no cure exists for AIDS, doctors can help patients keep their immune systems as strong as possible and to treat any diseases that can occur with AIDS.