What is HIV? What is AIDS?
What is HIV? What is AIDS?
These two questions have been asked for four decades. And I'm afraid to say that they will be done for many years. I know it is very important to answer these questions, to keep a beacon illuminating the horizon, warning about the risks. Having HIV, HIV, is different from developing AIDS, or AIDS. And you need to make a difference well so that you can better understand the whys, for example, of the good practice of testing yourself if you have a history of systematic or incidental risk behavior.
Allowing HIV infection to “move freely towards AIDS” can be a determining factor in the loss of your quality of life. Or even losing your life prematurely.
Allowing yourself to develop AIDS-defining illnesses can be irreversible and it is not difficult to prevent this from happening. After 1996/1997 the path for people living with HIV started to simplify.
A person diagnosed with HIV from these dates began to simplify himself. Establishing a simple parameter, Mara and I chose not to have children as it would be risky. We didn't know if we could live long enough not to leave an orphan or orphan behind. And the risk of bringing a child with HIV to light was very high. Today, vertical transmission is eradicated in many places in Brazil and the world. In this way, I start working on this text to answer these questions:
What is HIV? What is AIDS?
In this article
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV - The correct acronym is HIV), the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS - The correct acronym in Portuguese is AIDS).
HIV is transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal fluids and causes a series of symptoms that manifest shortly after infection, including fever and mouth ulcers. After a latent period - during which HIV slowly progresses to AIDS (HIV / AIDS - in the end a text with another focus on this), the third and last stage of the virus - infected people face more serious concerns, including extreme weight loss and opportunistic infections.
When AIDS first appeared in 1981, most cases were fatal. After the researchers determined that HIV was the cause of AIDS and how the virus spreads, they were able to develop ways to test the virus and develop effective treatments to prevent it from replicating in the body - a protocol called antiretroviral therapy (ART ).1
Now, many people who are HIV positive and start taking medication can continue to live differently, leading long, healthy lives.
Symptoms of the presence of HIV / AIDS
The symptoms of HIV / AIDS can be divided into two categories:
- Symptoms that appear when the body is first infected with stage 1, the acute phase.
- Stage 2 - chronic HIV infection is usually asymptomatic.
- And those that can occur after years if the virus is not treated and the infection can progress to AIDS (HIV stage 3).2
With treatment, an HIV-positive person can remain in this phase for decades. Without treatment, the virus usually progresses in eight to 12 years. Don't panic with aspects of the immune window! No one develops AIDS quickly!
HIV - Initial infection
A few weeks after entering the body, HIV triggers flu-like symptoms and, in some cases, some other telling symptoms:
- Night sweats
- Pharyngitis (sore throat)
- Myalgia (muscle pain)
- Arthralgia (joint pain)
- Lymphadenopathy (swollen lymph nodes, mainly in the neck)
- Mouth ulcers
Some people will also experience nausea, diarrhea or vomiting, and one in five will develop an “HIV rash”, one maculopapular skin condition characterized by bump, pink / red areas covered by small bumps like pimples that often merge into one.
AIDS / AIDS
After the latent period, signs that the virus is beginning to outperform the immune system include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Candidiasis (thrush), a fungal infection that usually affects the mouth
- Skin problems: blemishes, lesions and wounds
- Night sweats (sleep hyperhidrosis)
- Extreme weight loss (HIV loss)
This is also the point at which a person can become ill with opportunistic infections, so called because they are caused by pathogens that a healthy immune system would normally be able to fight easily. Shingles and pneumonia are two of the most common.3
HIV is classified by scientists as a retrovirus.
In most living organisms, a cell's genetic material is encoded from DNA to RNA. A retrovirus is the only one that uses its RNA encoding to produce DNA within an infected cell, a reversal of the normal process.
When this occurs, the newly produced DNA is inserted into the nucleus of the host cell by HIV, which effectively hijacks your genetic machinery to create multiple copies of yourself, each of which can infect and kill a host of other host cells. In this case, the host cells are white blood cells called “helper” white T cells - in particular, those known as CD4 or “CD4 T”, which trigger the body's immune response, being, in summary, the commanders in chief of the immune system
Opportunistic Diseases / AIDS-Defining Diseases
By systematically depleting these cells, HIV decreases the body's ability to identify and neutralize the invading virus, as well as a number of other agents (viral, bacterials, parasitic) against which he could defend himself.
During the initial infection, HIV replicates vigorously, infecting and destroying a substantial number of CD4 T cells. As soon as it becomes latent, the virus continues to replicate silently.
In addition to HIV, a subset of the virus called pro-virus is incorporated into cells and tissues called latent reservoirs, where they cannot be easily detected by the immune system. Even though we can control HIV with antiretroviral drugs, these pro-viruses can persist, ready to resurface as fully formed HIV the moment treatment fails or the immune system collapses.
How does HIV spread? How is HIV transmitted?
HIV can only be transmitted in a few specific ways, many of which can be easily prevented:
- Unprotected sexual contact
- Needle sharing among injecting drug users
- Accidental blood exposure
- Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy (Eradicated in the State of São Paulo)
HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, tears, saliva, feces or urine.
Why is testing so important?
Often only when a opportunistic infection it appears for the first time that a person may suspect that he or she is infected with HIV. At this point, the immune he is usually severely hampered by treatment and survival risks at risk, often literally at roulette!
The best way to prevent this from happening is to get an HIV test at least one time; people at high risk of HIV should be tested once a year. Make sure! After the test, protect yourself.
The prognosis of HIV / AIDS has already been, for many, a strong impediment to testing. I feared knowing and dying in despair.
But the positive test for HIV is no longer a death sentence in developed parts of the world: studies published in 2014 found that patients who start ART while the amount of virus in their bodies is relatively low have the same life expectancy as the general population.5
There are five ways to test for the presence of human immunodeficiency viruses:
- Elisa pattern in which a blood sample is taken at a doctor's office or clinic and examined for antibodies to HIV; the results are returned in five to 10 days.
- Quick test at the service location, which can generate a result in 20 minutes by measuring both antigens (proteins on the surface of the virus) and antibodies in a blood sample taken from a finger prick, a sample of saliva taken from the gums.
- Home testing who use a saliva sample and deliver the results in about 20 minutes - I, Claude, am outright against this procedure
When Does HIV Infection Turn Into AIDS?
For someone whose HIV infection has not been controlled, AIDS is diagnosed in two ways:
As normal CD4 counts vary on average between 800 and 1600 cells per µL. An HIV-positive person will be monitored regularly to monitor any changes in their CD4 count.6
HIV Infection Treatment - AIDS treatment
Managing the symptoms of HIV infection in the acute phase is usually a matter of a lot of rest and quality of sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, eating well and taking basic pain relievers to relieve headaches or body pain if necessary. You may need attention at a pain clinic.
In particular, I recommend the Beneficência Portuguesa Pain Clinic, also in the city of São Paulo.
However, as soon as the HIV test result is positive, it is vital that he starts taking antiretroviral drugs to control the life cycle of HIV, prevented from replicating, causing progressive and serious damage, potentially irreversible to the immune system.7 And even while organic cosmos in general.
There is no known cure for HIV infection or AIDS / AIDS, but strict adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) can dramatically slow the progress of the disease, prevent infections and secondary complications, and prolong life.
Antiretroviral Therapy / ART
As a rule, antiretroviral therapy depends on three different drug molecules, a strategy known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). However, this standard triple therapy can be replaced by therapies with two drugs, such as Juluca (dolutegravir + rilpivirine).
Antiretroviral drugs are organized into five classes based on the stage of the HIV life cycle they affect. In 2019, there are 28 individual drug molecules and 13 fixed-dose combination (FDC) drugs composed of two or more molecules each. Eight of the FDCs can be used as a single pill, a daily therapy.8
Prevention - It is better to avoid!
Understanding these questions: What is HIV? What is AIDS?
HIV is a virus with good potential for contagion, there is a silver lining: the paths that can be transmitted are well understood and also highly avoidable if specific precautions are taken.
To reduce the risk of infection with the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise taking certain precautions. Note that some of these strategies apply to people with certain lifestyles:
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have and make sure someone you are intimate with has been tested and is HIV-negative
- always use a barrier, such as a condom during sexual encounters, including oral sex
- New sterile route, needles and syringes if you are an intravenous drug user
- Take a daily medication to help protect yourself from the infection, which is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP.).
How can HIV be prevented?
Dealing with HIV infection is almost a routine task, given the chronic disease condition it represents. The most obvious aspects of dealing with being HIV positive / seropositive for HIV include doing everything necessary to stay healthy: leading a healthy lifestyle that will support the health of the immune system; comply with the medication; and follow the doctor's orders about regular check-ups to keep track of any changes in viral load and overall health.
However, the stigma that persists in relation to HIV and the continuing misunderstandings about how it is transmitted means that dealing with the situation extends to how you behave towards others and also how you feel about yourself. same. For this reason, being frank with trusted friends and family about your HIV condition can (or may not) help you feel supported and cared for.
Just as important as finding a community of others who are also HIV-positive can be an important lifeline for seeking therapy.
I speak psychological therapy. I chorus with Astrid Fontanelle:
"Therapy is so important that it should be part of the basic basket"
It is a source of counseling, of renewal, of personal growth, it generates strength to deal with all aspects of being HIV positive, as well as with its demons (everyone has at least three dozen of them.
You can obtain this support by participating in local support groups for people with your diagnosis and / or joining the online versions.
Valéria, Éline and Maira were and are important references in my search for my search for self-knowledge!
“Know you” - Confucius ”
How to cope and live well with HIV / AIDS
Let's think about it.
O A positive HIV diagnosis or a reagent for HIV can be spiritually devastating and, for sure, it will have changed what you believed to be the reality of your life forever, it will affect your relationships, your way of living, your way of looking at life. It will put in check everything that you believe to be real and solid in your existence. It will require a high degree of vigilance to stay healthy. Don't rely on those who, based on their pink or blue visions of life, tell you what positive thinking is all about. Positive thinking needs the support of your positive action. My life changed in a few hours. Do"DJ loved, desired and idolized even a homeless beggar on the streets has not passed five hours!"
And, I know, my case was extreme! I know I am. But I can't forget that I went and everything I learned along the way. Two, maybe three months after the diagnosis and the whole calamity of my life was another. Was?
Intimate Reform in the Face of the Unexpected
No. I became another and started to perceive life in Dolby Surround, Tecnicolor and Panavision!
The path of each one is determined by each one. How will you do this? The answer is not with me!
I went through a deep intimate reform and people of that time who liked me well and somehow accompanied me were perplexed by the change!
But that you can if staying healthy while living with HIV is an important fact that is worth focusing on. Don't trivialize your HIV infection! Respect your opponent! The destructive power of a progressive and chronic viral disease should not be undermined.
I always say that there is life with HIV.
In 2014, after giving up on UNIFESP, I received a call from a girl, a girl, whom I met there. I was freaked out, afraid. I gave her the Blog URL. Two minutes later she returned: ´ "Are you serious"? What? - "This: There is life with HIV"? - "Of course I do! I don't .... What came next, I prefer to keep. Each one knows and that ...
It is in your heart to win or not to win. Only you have the right resources to solve your path. The challenge is immense. But it's not bigger than you!
There is life… it is there at the top of the blog, but it's up to you to take care of yourself and your life, one day at a time, without ever fading! The name of this is struggle, daily realization that transforms disaster into resilience on a daily basis.
At the time / space when I was diagnosed, life expectancy was six months for me.
I believed and feared ending up as a plant without water, in an abandoned vase in a lifeless room.
And yet, I'm here, 26 years later!
Take the necessary steps to reach an acceptance point regarding your diagnosis and then commit to doing everything you can to live your life in the best way, day after day. And, if you find how, try to measure the shadows of your life by illuminating other people's path!
It works well and the result is great for the liver! OR for the soul! I do not know!
What is HIV? What is AIDS? What is HIV? What AIDS? It was translated and adapted from the original into VeryHealth on 27/08/2020 by Cláudio Souza