Those who believe they have contracted the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will want to learn the facts about HIV and AIDS. It used to be that people believed they had been handed a death sentence when they heard they were infected with HIV. Currently, this is not the case. Managing HIV and AIDS is something like managing diabetes, and people can live very long productive lives after their initial diagnosis.
How You Can Get HIV
HIV is present in human blood, semen, secretions of the vagina and breast milk. One uninfected person can contract the disease from the blood, semen or vaginal secretions of an infected person through vaginal, anal or oral sex. A baby can contract the infection from the mother by ingesting the mother’s milk. However, babies can become infected in utero. They are most likely to become infected during childbirth.
In the past before screening was common, people became infected through blood transfusions and organ and other tissue transplantations. Some have been infected with HIV when being artificially inseminated with contaminated sperm. Drug users became infected in large number by sharing hypodermic needles with infected users.
How Do You Get AIDS?
People contract acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) some time after they become infected with HIV. They will notice that they are losing weight without trying to, they feel tired and may have diarrhea. Their lymph nodes will be swollen and they will have a fever and night sweats. Because their immune systems are weak, they may develop one of the diseases that are common in people with AIDS, including Kaposi’s Sarcoma, pneumonia and herpes simplex.
What Are the Symptoms of HIV?
The symptoms of HIV include the following:
• Muscle pain
• Loss of appetite
• Swollen glands
Those who are suffering from the above symptoms after a sexual encounter will want to have a test for HIV. If it is true that they are infected with HIV, they will want to begin treatment as soon as possible.
HIV Drug Treatments
People have many choices in the drugs used to treat an HIV infection. Several of these drugs prevent the replication of the virus and one of these is Zidovudine. Another common treatment combines several antiviral drugs along with Zidovudine in what is called a “cocktail.” Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is one of these cocktails and has been able to reduce the infection to non-detectable numbers.