What is the HIV Virus?

What you need to know about HIV

This article will tell you all you need to know about the very popular and widespread virus in the world presently, which is the HIV virus. By the time you are done reading this article and you will have the handy information you need to keep a brace.

You will get to know about the following:

  • The meaning of HIV
  • The causes of HIV
  • The symptoms of HIV

The meaning of HIV

HIV which stands for Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks immune cells in the immune system called CD4 cells, which are a type of T-helper cell. These immune cells are white blood cells that move around the body, detecting faults and anomalies in cells as well as infections. The virus destroys these white blood cells in the immune system and makes copies of itself inside these cells.

When HIV targets and infiltrates these cells, it gradually weakens a person’s immune system. It reduces the body’s ability to combat other diseases. This means that someone who has HIV, and isn’t taking antiretroviral treatment, will find it harder to fight off other infections and diseases.

However, a person can carry HIV without experiencing symptoms for a long time and If HIV is left untreated, it may take up to 10 or 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged that it can no longer defend itself at all. However, the rate at which HIV progresses greatly varies depending on age, background and general health .

If HIV is left untreated, it may take up to 10 or 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged that it can no longer defend itself at all. However, the rate at which HIV progresses varies depending on age, general health, and background.  

However, HIV is a lifelong infection and receiving treatment and managing the disease effectively can prevent HIV from reaching a severe level and reduce the risk of a person passing on the virus.

HIV virus image
Image of HIV virus

Causes of HIV

Unlike the very popular myth that HIV can be gotten from just having contact with infected persons, HIV cannot be gotten from just shaking hands, kissing, using the same toilet, sharing cutlery, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or other forms of “casual contact”, etc.

However, HIV can be gotten from contacting bodily fluids, these bodily fluids include semen, blood, anal fluids, vaginal secretions. A person living with HIV who is pregnant or has recently born a child might transfer the disease to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. There is also a risk of HIV transmitting through blood transfusions but this is extremely low in countries that have effective screening procedures in place for blood donations. Also, sharing equipment for injectable illicit drugs, hormones, and steroids with a person who has HIV may also transfer HIV.

Picture of HIV Virus in blood stream
Picture of HIV Virus in blood stream.

Symptoms of HIV

Some early symptoms of HIV may include:

  • joint pains
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • chills
  • frequent sweat
  • rashes
  • tiredness and general weakness
  • weight loss
  • enlarged lymph
  • muscle ache

However, when the person notices the virus in the body and does not start taking medications for it, the body starts to show late symptoms and these symptoms may be after on or before 10 years. At this stage, HIV has developed into full-blown AIDS or stage 3 HIV.

These late symptoms include:

  • swollen glands lasting for weeks
  • dry cough
  • blurred vision
  • night sweats
  • diarrhea
  • a fever of over 100 °F (37 °C) for a weeks
  • permanent tiredness
  • unintentional weight loss
  • white spots on the tongue or mouth

During the late-stage HIV infection, there is a very high risk of developing a life-threatening illness. A person with late-stage HIV can control, prevent and treat serious conditions by taking other medications alongside HIV treatment.

To know more about HIV, its prevention and treatment,check the related articles


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