The shame and stigma that is attached to being infected with the HIV virus is the thing that stops people from submitting to an HIV test. However, the life-threatening menace of the virus would be the encouragement for an infected individual to seek help. Yet, does it have to invade one’s privacy in order to do that? Would something as convenient and private as an HIV home test kit be available and if so, would it give accurate results?
If you suspect that you have acquired an HIV virus from a recent sexual encounter, the time to act and confirm it is now. If left untested and untreated, the HIV could eventually progress to AIDS and by that time it will be too late. We are all aware that there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS despite the advances in scientific and medical technology and research. The only chance that an HIV-infected individual has is to stop the replication of the virus without it progressing to AIDS and live for a longer period.
The first step that needs to be taken is to have an HIV testing done to confirm whether you have the virus or not. The upside to testing is the availability of HIV home test kits that can be performed in the privacy of your home. Just remember to get the ones that have the approval of FDA which qualifies it to be an HIV home kit that could give accurate results. The downside to the home kits is the state laws. Some states consider them as illegal since home testing could not be tracked. Federal law has sided with the right to privacy of an infected individual, but this has been disregarded by some states. The best way for you to find out before getting an HIV home test kit is to check your state laws.
Just a heads up for you to consider before buying your own HIV home test kit. HIV antigens can only be detected three months after it has infected you. The test would be able to give accurate results when 12 weeks has gone by from the time that you had a suspected sexual encounter. There are also cases where it took more than three months for the HIV antigen to be detected.
An HIV home test kit comes complete with instructions on the proper way to get a blood specimen. What you need to do is to wash your hands before pricking your finger. This is to avoid contamination of other chemicals that may be on your finger to the blood specimen. Some HIV home test kits could provide accurate results in a matter of ten minutes. This is if the period of three months from suspected infection has taken place.
Should the results show that you have acquired the infection, do not look at it as a death sentence. The HIV antigens in your body would not necessarily progress to AIDS as seen in other cases of other infected people who have learned to control it and lead normal lives as well.Read More
Most of us are aware that the HIV virus weakens the immune system which is responsible for protecting our bodies from harmful infections. The mode of transmittal for HIV virus is either through body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids or blood transfusion of infected blood. If left untreated, HIV could eventually process to AIDS. The virus cannot live without a host body but it will certainly thrive with a healthy one that has been infected through the delicate membranes of our genitalia such as the vagina, penis, rectum, and urethra.
The signs and symptoms of early onset of the HIV virus are different for men and women. For the men, the initial stage of the infection will manifest flu-like symptoms such as periodic headaches that may be mild or moderate accompanied by fever. The headaches that will be experienced will not be different from the usual headaches that we normally experience. The difference would be the swelling and inflammation of the various lymph nodes in the body. Glands will have firm and raised indurations in the armpit, groin, and neck. No pain or discomfort will be felt with these swellings which could be blamed for different conditions.
The dramatic changes will occur in the energy and stamina levels. The tiredness and general fatigue felt will be unexplainable and worrying. If exercises are done during this period, it may give a little boost of energy that men usually conclude that the fatigue felt was due to work-related stress.
Statistics shows that there are more men infected with the HIV virus than women. If, despite the alarming initial signs and symptoms, the infected individual does not undergo HIV testing, outwardly he may look healthy but the virus inside is already busy attacking the immune system. A long asymptomatic period usually occurs after the flu-like symptoms appear which could make the infected person think that it was just a passing infection that has already been overcome.
The sad part comes when the untreated disease now progresses to the last stage and becomes full-blown AIDS. This time around, it’s too late to do something about it. AIDS has almost eliminated the immune system which is open to all types of infections even the most harmless ones like the common cold.
Unexplained recurring bouts of diarrhea and nausea will rapidly deplete weight, fever, and joint pains will also be manifested. Extreme fatigue will attack the body and some dormant diseases will now be activated such as certain types of cancers, kidney, and liver problems. The flu-like symptoms are the body’s final defense against the attack of the virus.
Getting an HIV test should be made a requirement for every annual health check-up ensure good health not only for you but also for your partner. The key and emphasis should always be on safe sex which is by using protective barriers such as a condom. If you are manifesting early onset of the disease, the best way is to seek medical help and have yourself tested.Read More
The long incubation period has earned the HIV/AIDS disease the sobriquet of being called the ‘silent epidemic’. It is because an individual could be infected with the disease for many years without showing any signs and symptoms. It is precisely why an infected person can infect another person since he or she is not aware that he or she has HIV/AIDS.
There are different phases that can divide the infection of HIV. The phases may be different from each other but in most cases, discerning their differences could be difficult. The various complications that may take place in the immune system of a person are determined by the state of health of the infected individual.
The benefit of antiretroviral therapy which allows an infected individual to live for a lot of years has categorized HIV/AIDS as a chronic disease. The symptoms of HIV/AIDS are very difficult to
determine, but there are common ones that usually appear to individuals infected by HIV/AIDS:
- Oral thrush caused by a yeast infection called Candida albicans
- A rare form of skin cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma
- Recurring Herpes infections
- Fever with no known cause
- Mycobacterium avium infection
- Dry persistent cough
- Gut or retinal cytomegalovirus infection
- Unexplained Weight loss. Once the immune system has been affected, infected individuals lose weight as the disease progresses.
- Pneumocystis pneumonia
- Extreme fatigue. Affected immune systems bring on extreme fatigue to most patients afflicted with the HIV/AIDS infection.
- Cerebral toxoplasmosis
- Skin infections that are bacterial in nature
- Night sweats
- Major complications due to the entry of opportunistic infections even from normally harmless ones
The infected individual may deceive everyone as he or she may look and remain in the best health for a long period without showing any symptoms even when the virus inside the body is already devastating his or her immune system. This is why HIV/AIDS is viewed by the medical group as a very deceiving and traitorous disease. It is also the reason why early diagnosis is difficult to make. There are numerous cases when it is at the terminal stage when patients can be accurately diagnosed which by this time the damage to the immune system is already very extensive that not even a partial treatment can repair it.
With the characterization that the HIV/AIDS has, it is extremely important for the public to be aware of it and the ways to prevent being infected with it. The traitorous nature of the infection where an individual is not even aware that he or she is already infected is the very thing that makes HIV/AIDS highly contagious and difficult to contain. Information of the disease needs to be widely spread more so to third world countries where the infection is most rampant.
In the light of the devastating effects that an HIV/AIDS could do to the immune system of a human body, the best way that this could be prevented from getting infected is to be vigilant at all times.Read More
Researchers feel that they are going in the right direction in their quest for curing HIV/AIDS. There is a case where two babies, born with the HIV infection and treated, lived for a couple of years without showing the presence of the virus.
Yet, one of them has the HIV virus again.
It could be concluded that the treatment was able to get rid of the virus even for a short period, can make a change in the outcome of the treatment for recently infected people.
The usual norm taken for babies suspected of having the HIV virus is a medication program that could stop the virus. However, in the event that there are two positive tests, the medications are changed to ones that are meant to treat HIV. These would be safer for the babies to use as they would be more than two weeks old.
But then doctors could also take different treatment programs. 30 hours after birth a baby born in Mississippi was given treatment while in California, another baby only 4 hours old was also treated.
After a year, the baby from California is still free from HIV. For over two years, the baby from Mississippi was HIV-negative but recently has been shown to be positive again. It seems that after the baby reached 18 months, the mother decided to stop her medications.
The methods that were used on these newly-born babies were a plan that scientists hoped would stop the HIV from forming or totally eliminate the HIV virus that hides in the body.
A professor from the infectious diseases department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says that the results were not something new. He states further that it leads support to the view that the HIV cells hides in a reservoir in the body and does not go away. He also said that a cure could only happen if this reservoir is eradicated.
Whether this is a breakthrough or a setback only one thing can be concluded from the test that was done on the babies. It proves the theory right that the earlier an HIV-infected person submits to an HIV test and receive treatment, the better health outcome it will give to him or her.
However, the downside to this theory are the infected people who rarely know that they have the disease since signs and symptoms only appear two weeks to a month after infection. It was fine to do with the babies as they were already monitored and tested as soon as their mothers gave birth to them.
What doctors now recommend is for STD testing to be made a requirement for physical health check-ups or for sexually active adults to submit to tests every three to six months.
The thing that holds most adults from having an STD test is the stigma that they face once they go to testing centers. The loss of privacy is their main concern. Yet, as one doctor in an HIV clinic always advise the health care professionals if someone gets a positive HIV test: to ask questions later but start the treatment right away.Read More
HIV Eradication is the goal name from the numerous research findings that brings closer a cure for HIV/AIDS. Zinc finger nucleases or ZFNs and gene therapy are the explored avenues to find out if people infected with AIDS can be cured. A patient with the AIDS virus was deemed cured of the infection when a bone marrow transplant was received from a donor that had a chromosomal deletion resistant to HIV. It is this idea that has encouraged the pursuit of gene therapy as a means to a cure. It is hoped by medical practitioners that even if the gene therapy cannot completely eradicate AIDS, the disease can be stabilized to a certain point where the infected individual doesn’t have to be dependent on medicines.
As in the case of ZFN, it is seen as a disruption process in the CD4 cells’ co-receptor of the HIV virus which will stop it from infecting the cells. The following hypothesis should be answered by the research in their attempt to use ZFN: Will modifying the CD4 cells of an HIV patient lead to future HIV-resistant cells? This particular avenue has interested researchers because of the presence of actual people who have immunity towards HIV. It has been discovered that around 2% of those having a lineage from Northern Europe display a CCR5 receptor gene deletion that has made most of them almost immune to infection from an HIV virus.
To test this theory out, donor cells were taken from a person with this unique genetic mutation and used as a stem cell transplant to an HIV patient that was also sick with leukemia. A stem cell transplant is the usual procedure for patients that are sick with leukemia, but it was the HIV of this particular patient that interest was focused on. It was successfully done because that stem cell transplant cured that HIV positive patient of the infection. After several years, the patient was tested again and still showed to be free from HIV. This astounding discovery never made it big. Only a handful of people know about this medical miracle.
The most remarkable breakthrough in the field of science is the HIV gene therapy that can eventually lead to a functional cure to an HIV infection very soon. The exploration of a unique genetic mutation possessed by a tiny population in the entire world which can finally pave the way for an HIV cure that could totally eradicate this deadly virus would be the greatest news for all mankind.
Yet, despite this wonderful news that gives hope to millions of HIV positive people, more tests, experiments, and research has to be done before it could be declared safe, reliable, and affordable to all afflicted people coming from all walks of life. Research and tests do not come cheap and the only thing that could stop this promising breakthrough, the first to happen in a long quest for an HIV cure would be the needed funding. It will be an opportunity lost if financial support for this is not forthcoming.Read More
When an HIV infection is far advanced, it progresses to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, a phase where the immune system cannot protect the body from invasions of cancer or other infections. It could take a few months or ten years or more for an HIV disease to progress to AIDS.
HIV/AIDS has no cure, but a retroviral therapy could prevent the HIV virus from replicating which could be described as the latency period.
Some men may display symptoms, but most are asymptomatic. This is the main reason for the widespread infection as men would be unaware that they carry the virus. Symptoms may appear from two weeks to three months after a person becomes infected and they may manifest the following:
- Night sweats
- Rashes on the stomach, arms, face, and legs
- Vomiting brought about by nausea
- Sore throat
- Joint pains and muscle aches
- Swollen lymph glands in the neck, groin, and armpits
- Painful headaches
- Ulcers in the genital area or mouth
After the flu-like symptoms comes the latency period. This is the time when men will feel perfectly fine and may even look and act healthy. If the infected person is still untested and untreated, the latency period will be the time the HIV virus replicates until extensive damage is done to the immune system.
When this happens, the HIV now progresses to full-blown AIDS and these will be the symptoms that infected men will experience:
- Rapid loss of weight
- Symptoms of other diseases and infections
- Swollen lymph glands in the groin area, neck, and armpits
- A Persistent cough with shortness of breath
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Extreme and unexplained fatigue
- Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Bumps, skin rashes, and lesions on the tongue
- Night sweats, fever, and chills
It has been noted that the key to a longer life span is early treatment. Fighting off the HIV virus at the early onset will give men a better chance of survival. Studies have shown that a near-normal life could be possible even when diagnosed of HIV. The start of a treatment can give the immune system a bigger chance to fight off the HIV virus before it gets compromised. Early treatment is also the key to containing the infection as men are now aware that they have the infection and take the necessary steps to stop contaminating other uninfected partners.
Yet, the treatment could not be started if an HIV test is not taken to confirm the diagnosis. A research done in 2008 found that only about half of the men who consulted a doctor following symptoms experienced were correctly diagnosed. The other half was informed that they probably had something else and were only recommended for an HIV test after they went back two or three times to the doctor.
The scenario shows a deplorable state of missed opportunity for the men to have themselves tested as soon as possible. There are cases where men who became acquired late testing progressed to AIDS after a year of being diagnosed with HIV.Read More