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Hiv

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HIV is an abbreviation which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection. As the name implies, it is a viral infection. HIV usually eventually leads to AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. HIV and AIDS slowly destroy the body’s immune system, making it nearly impossible for the body to fight infection. This means that a patient inflicted with HIV or AIDS may become terminally ill from the common cold or other seemingly harmless virus. HIV is considered a huge health threat and in some terms is considered a social problem. HIV is classified as a sexually transmitted disease.

HIV SYMPTOMS

A person carrying and spreading the HIV virus may have no symptoms for a very long time. Testing is suggested for anyone who has had unprotected sexual intercourse, was the victim of rape, or has had a blood transfusion prior to 1990, or for some reason has reason to believe they have been exposed to the HIV virus. Some symptoms may eventually appear, but it is possible to spread the HIV virus before symptoms such as headaches, diarrhea, sore throat, mouth sores, muscle stiffness, muscle aches, fever, fatigue, rash, swollen lymph glands, and frequent vaginal infections appear.
Hiv
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HIV CAUSES

HIV is caused by a virus which medical science has been able to successfully slow, but has yet been able to successfully cease the virus from spreading or from contributing to illness within the patient. The HIV virus is considered deadly, although there are some patients who either progress to AIDS either very slowly or never at all. The HIV virus can only be spread through specific modes, however a patient who is asymptomatic can still spread the disease.

HIV RISK FACTOR

Risk factors for HIV include unprotected sexual activity, the use of shared intravenous drug needles, blood transfusions especially before 1990, and any other contact that involves the exchange of bodily fluids including assisting an injured individual whose bodily fluids enter the body through the mouth, a cut, or other open wound. Homosexuality is not a risk factor. The medical community is considered at risk due to the high instances of dealing with bodily fluids as well as the accidental sticking with infected needles.

HIV DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing HIV involves a blood test. Most people who are aware of a previous exposure should be tested every six months. While in most cases it takes three months for an HIV test to show up as positive after exposure, some people have carried HIV for as long as ten years without symptoms. Testing every six months after exposure is recommended as a significant precautionary method. A blood test may show an HIV antibody and blood differentials may show abnormalities.

HIV COMPLICATIONS

Complications from untreated or undiagnosed HIV can include exposing others to the virus, becoming chronically and increasingly ill, and open the body up to opportunistic infection such as tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, Cryptococcus, salmonella infection of the blood, cancers, and HIV dementia, as well as chronic wasting from HIV infection. HIV is considered to be fatal usually within ten years of contracting the disease, although life spans are significantly increasing with proper treatment.

HIV TREATMENT

A combination of antiviral medications is the only treatment available at this time. It is vital that patients take their medications on time and as scheduled to avoid the virus becoming resistant to the medication. Unfortunately, the medication is very expensive and many patients without health insurance can not afford these medications which can ultimately add time and quality to their life.

Self care is vital when diagnosed with HIV. Proper diet and good nutrition as well as ample rest when needed can help the body fight off infection. Often an HIV patient will be prescribed antibiotics during the winter months as well as receive periodic check ups. Most physicians recommend the patient receives an annual flu shot and avoids situations where they are likely to contract an illness. Support groups and family support can make a huge difference in the overall health of an HIV patient. Depression can set in and this can affect the overall health of the HIV patient. It is important that the HIV patient continue to participate in life as much as possible after being diagnosed with HIV. Good health begins with diet, attitude, and the ability to follow physician instructions.
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