What is HIV?
HIV is an acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that has infected several millions of people around the world. It is much smaller than a single red blood cell, but its structure enables to it replicate fast. There are two types of HIV, and they are HIV-1 and HIV-2. Today, it is the HIV-1 that attacks people all over the globe.
What are the stages of HIV?
There are four stages of HIV and they are the following:
- Incubation Period – this stage lasts for a few days to a few weeks. At this point, a person who has been infected with HIV will not show any visible symptoms of the infection.
- Stage 2 – this stage is characterized by a few physical symptoms such as rashes, sore throat, mouth and esophagus sores, muscle weakness, and swelling of the lymph nodes.
- Latency Period – this stage lasts for a few weeks to years, depending on the efficiency of the medication taken. People who fail to take medication will progress to the next stage much faster.
- Stage 4 – this is the point when a person with HIV becomes a person with AIDS.
How is HIV transmitted?
Contrary to earlier beliefs, HIV is not exclusive to gay men. All of us, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, skin color, or educational background, are at risk of getting infected with HIV.
The number one method of HIV transmission is by sexual intercourse, whether anal, vaginal, or oral. As long as there are body fluids exchanged via an open wound, etc, the virus can travel from one person to another. A mother who has HIV and is pregnant can infect her baby via childbirth, while in the womb, or breastfeed.
What happens when HIV is undiagnosed or untreated?
A person who has HIV but is not diagnosed or is not undergoing any treatment is very likely to develop other complications or acquire other illnesses. Because an HIV-positive person has a weak immune system, he or she will be unable to protect himself or herself from these foreign viruses and bacteria. As a result, he or she will weaken some more until he or she dies.
What are HIV tests?
HIV tests are there to enable people to know whether they have HIV or not. There are several ways to get tested for HIV, and people must know where they can avail of an HIV test so that when the need comes, they can easily find an HIV testing center or an HIV test kit for their own use.