Illustration of HIV. © Shutterstock.com/jocic
Merdeka.com – Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a dangerous disease that can threaten the life of the sufferer. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that can be spread through sexual contact with an infected person. Not only that, HIV can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
Until now, there is no drug that can cure this disease that attacks the body’s immune system. However, some medications are usually taken by patients to reduce symptoms and slow the progression of more severe conditions. Although there is no cure, these drugs have reduced the risk of death in people living with HIV/AIDS in many developed countries.
Public awareness is needed about the dangers of HIV disease that can occur. In this case, you need to know the symptoms and what causes HIV disease. In addition, it is also important to understand how the process of transmission and prevention can be done to minimize the risk of disease.
By knowing some of these things, you can realize the importance of maintaining a healthy body from sexual activity. Not only for yourself, but also protect your partner from the risk of transmitting HIV disease. Reporting from Mayoclinic, we summarize the meaning, mode of transmission, symptoms, causes, and prevention of disease HIV is as follows.
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Recognizing HIV Disease
Â©2012 Merdeka.com/Shutterstock/ Fabio Berti
As previously explained that HIV is a disease that attacks and can lower the immune system. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease that can be spread through sexual contact.
This is often a misconception in society, it should be emphasized that HIV can only be transmitted through sexual intercourse, the use of shared injection equipment, blood transfusions, or the condition of pregnant women who transmit the virus to their babies. So you can not be infected with HIV just through casual contact such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with people who have HIV.
For people who are infected with this disease, it is necessary to get good treatment immediately. If not, the condition of people with HIV will get worse and lead to AIDS. Usually without treatment, a person with HIV can take years before the virus weakens the body’s immune system and causes AIDS.
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Causes and Symptoms
After knowing the general understanding of HIV disease, next you need to understand the causal factors and what symptoms appear when someone is infected with HIV. In general, HIV is a disease caused by a virus. The virus can be spread through sexual contact, injecting drug use or sharing needles, contact with infected blood, or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.
When entering the body, the HIV virus destroys CD4 T cells, which are white blood cells that play a major role in helping your body fight disease. The fewer CD4 T cells you have in your body, the weaker your immune system will be.
While the symptoms of HIV are divided into groups, namely acute or mild symptoms, chronic or severe symptoms, symptomatic symptoms, and symptoms of progression to AIDS. Here’s a more complete explanation you can see.
Some people infected with HIV usually develop flu-like symptoms within 2 to 4 weeks after the virus enters the body. These conditions include primary (acute) HIV infection, which can last for several weeks. Some of the symptoms of acute HIV are as follows:
- Muscle pain and joint pain
- Painful sore throat and canker sores
- Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck
- Weight loss
- Night sweats
These symptoms can appear so mild that you may not even notice them. However, the amount of virus in the bloodstream (viral load) is quite high when it enters the body. As a result, the infection spreads more easily during the primary infection than during the later stages.
At this stage of infection, HIV is still in the body and in white blood cells. However, many people may have no symptoms or infection during this time.
This stage can last for years if you do not receive antiretroviral therapy (ART). Some people can even develop a more severe condition more quickly
As the virus continues to multiply and destroy the immune system, the cells in the body that help fight germs may develop minor infections. In this condition, there may also experience advanced symptoms:
- Swollen lymph nodes – often one of the first signs of HIV infection
- Weight loss
- Oral yeast infection (thrush)
- Herpes zoster (herpes zoster)
If people with HIV do not get good and proper care, this condition can increase the risk of AIDS. In general, if left untreated HIV usually progresses to AIDS in about 8 to 10 years.
When AIDS occurs, your immune system is severely damaged. You will be more susceptible to contracting and developing various diseases. This is called an opportunistic infection or opportunistic cancer. Signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include:
- Recurrent fever
- Chronic diarrhea
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
- Persistent and unexplained fatigue
- Weight loss
- Skin rash or bumps
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How to Prevent HIV
After knowing the causes and symptoms, next you need to understand what things can be done to minimize the risk of transmitting HIV disease.
In this case, there are several prevention ways that you need to do, ranging from implementing healthy sexual activities, building good communication with your partner if you have HIV, to getting the right treatment to reduce the risk of transmission to others.
Some steps to prevent HIV disease are as follows:
- If living with a person who has HIV, the partner or person will need to take the recommended medication to prevent the virus from being infected to you. In this case, the patient must regularly take the prescribed medication and get regular checkups.
- If you think you have been exposed through sex, needles or at work, call your doctor or go to the emergency room. Taking PEP as soon as possible in the first 72 hours can greatly reduce your risk of becoming infected with HIV. You also need to take the drug for 28 days.
- Use a new condom every time you have anal or vaginal sex. Women can use female condoms. If using a lubricant, make sure it is water based. Oil-based lubricants can weaken condoms and cause them to break. During oral sex use condoms that are not lubricated and cut open
- The combination of the drugs emtricitabine plus tenofovir (Truvada) and emtricitabine plus tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy) can reduce the risk of sexually transmitting HIV in people at very high risk. PrEP can reduce the risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by more than 70%. Your doctor will prescribe this drug for HIV prevention only if you have not had HIV infection.
- It is important to tell all of your current and previous sexual partners that you are HIV-positive. They also need to be tested for HIV to prevent serious risks.
- If you are HIV positive and are pregnant, seek medical attention immediately. This method can reduce the risk of HIV transmission to the baby significantly.
- Consider male circumcision, as it is known that circumcision can help reduce the risk of getting HIV infection.