Learn About HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that cause HIV. AIDS is the most advanced stage of the HIV infection.
The way HIV is spread is through contact with body fluids from a person that has the virus. These fluids are blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk. The spread of this disease from one person to another is called transmission. In the US, the main way HIV is spread is by having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom. Another common way of contracting the virus is by sharing injection drug equipment, such as needles , with someone who has HIV.
There are ways that a person may reduce their risk of the infection. These include using condoms correctly every time they have sex, limit your number of partners, and never share needles. Another way you can limit your exposure is by talking to your physician about PrEP, which is pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who don’t have the virus but are at high risk of becoming infected with it. A big misconception that we as a society have is that we can not come close to people that are HIV positive. You can not contract the virus by shaking hands or hugging a person who has HIV. You also can not get it from contact with objects such as dishes, toilet seats, or doorknobs used by a person with HIV.
So many of you would probably like to know what are the symptoms. Usually within 2-4 weeks after infection with HIV, some will develop flu-like symptoms, like fever, chills, or rash. These symptoms may last a few days to several weeks. What happens after this early stage is that the virus continues to multiply but at very low levels. Then years later, more severe symptoms of the infection occur, with signs of opportunistic infections. One thing to note is that once a person has been infected, transmission can happen at any stage. The diagnosis of AIDS is based on blood work showing a drop in CD4 count to less than 200 cells/mm3 or the presence of certain opportunistic infections. The treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy or also known as ART. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines daily. ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV because it prevents the virus from multiplying and reduces the amount of virus in the body. Having low amounts of the virus keeps the immune system strong and prevents the virus from advancing to AIDS. This therapy can not cure HIV but it can help the person live longer, healthier lives.
If anyone has any questions about HIV, please reach out to the staff at Eco Pharmacy. We are here to help you in any way possible, no matter what the circumstances.