Acute HIV infection is a condition in which human immunodeficiency virus attacks the immune system of the body. The virus destroys the immune system bit by bit and as a result immune system gets so weak that it becomes difficult for the body to fight infections. This condition is also called Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
The human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is spread from person to person through:
• Sexual contact- by having un protected oral, vaginal or anal sex with infected person
• Through contaminated blood transfusion
• Use of contaminated needles or syringes for injections or drugs
• Pregnant mother to baby through their shared circulation of blood
• Nursing mother can pass on the virus to baby through breast milk. It is not so easy to recognize people with acute HIV infection. People infected with HIV may not show any symptoms even up to 10 years, but infection can still be passed on by them to others. When a person gets infected with HIV, blood tests can detect antibodies produced by immune system to fight HIV.
What is HIV Syndrome?
Early stage of HIV infection is called HIV syndrome. At this early stage of infection, the infected person may not show any symptoms. A person often develops flu like symptoms that continues for several weeks and then subsides. Some common symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes, headache, soar throat, fatigue, rashes, muscle stiffness and pain, and ulcers of the mouth.
Symptoms may appear with the progress of the disease and infected persons’ condition may deteriorate. Sometimes up to 10 years, no symptoms appear at all. If symptoms appear they may include the following along with above mentioned symptoms: Rapid weight loss, Diarrhea, Cough, and shortness of breath.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Acute HIV
Our immune system guards our body against bacteria and viruses. HIV attacks this natural defense of our body and makes it weak. Weak immune system becomes vulnerable to infections easily. Weak immune system shows symptoms like Fever, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes in neck or groin. HIV can also badly affect the gastrointestinal system and symptoms like rapid weight loss, loss of appetite, diarrhea and excessive fatigue can occur.
At the later stage of this disease, breathing and respiration problems often occur. Symptoms like shortness of breath and dry or productive cough are usually seen in patients. That is why HIV testing is necessary. Most of symptoms of HIV occur due to the attack of other viruses, fungi or bacteria.
One of these infections can be of skin or mucous membranes. Symptoms like skin rash, lesion on the skin, effect on dental health, and sign of candida or thrush, cankers sores can occur. Some neurological or emotional symptoms can also been seen in patients like depression, lack of consciousness, boring and numbness in the feet.
How HIV is Detected?
After entering the body, HIV moves towards white blood cells known as “CD4 lymphocytes”. Taking over CD4 cells, HIV now makes millions of copies every day. The new cells start spreading throughout the body. Body tries to defend itself from HIV by making antibodies when antibodies against HIV are found in blood; it is assumed that body is trying to protect the person from HIV infection that he has picked up.
Due to increased level of active HIV, CD4 cells are destroyed in large numbers, which results in reduction of CD4 cells significantly and weakens the immune system and symptoms of Acute HIV infection begin to appear. Symptoms like fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, weight loss, diarrhea, sore throat and fatigue may appear. As symptoms are quite similar to influenza or any other viral infection, diagnosis of acute HIV infection is often missed. However, people with HIV symptoms do have HIV RNA in their blood.
A test can be conducted of “viral load” to know if the person is showing the symptoms because of HIV. When a person gets infected with HIV, their body tries hard to resist the virus. In this process, virus can’t multiply itself. In spite of having HIV, a person can feel and look good. Regular blood test will be normal. Meanwhile virus continues to attack the lymph nodes which are the centers of the body’s immune system.
Virus even attacks the brain tissues and damages them. As time passes, HIV kills maximum number of CD4 cells and after 10-15 years, the body fails to fight infections. When a person’s CD4 cell count is less than 200 per ml, the person is considered an AIDS patient. Normal count should be 600 to 1000. Once a person is victim of AIDS, he or she becomes susceptible to many other serious infections.
Does early Treatment of HIV Helps?
Your body can slow down the process of HIV by making antibodies and CD4 cells, but there is no complete cure to get rid of the virus till now. However, treatment is carried out by combination of medicines known as anti-retroviral drugs which restricts the virus and keeps the immune system strong for a considerable period.
This is the reason the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests early treatment for those who are infected with HIV. The disease which was once regarded as a leading killer, now with the application of combination drug therapy can be controlled for years. Even though an HIV patient can feel well after undergoing treatment, yet they can still spread the virus to others through exchange of blood or unsafe sex.
Medicines can prevent or slow down AIDS by making the immune system strong, they can’t kill or eliminate virus completely. Though in most cases, acute HIV infections progress towards early symptomatic HIV infection and to Advance Hive disease (AIDS), but this is not always so. Extensive studies and researches are going on in this field and new medicines and drugs are developed and tested by scientist to find drugs that can hold back the virus completely. Today, throughout the world, a huge number of people are being infected by this disease. Particularly in big metropolitan cities, people with HIV infection are found in greater number.
Following some healthy practices when a person is in the early stage of HIV infection can restrict the spread of this disease.
• Avoiding direct contact with people suffering from infectious disease
• Eating a healthy , nutritious diet
• Exercising regularly without wearing out yourself
• Avoiding situation that increases stress or depression
• Practicing safe sex
Though there is no ultimate cure for HIV or AIDS, yet by undergoing proper treatment, one can improve the quality and length of his/her life and delay the beginning of AIDS.