All about the interconnection between HIV and AIDS


HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. As the name suggests, the virus is contracted only by humans. It affects the immune system, and hence it doesn’t work as effectively as it should. Over time, HIV destroys many cells specifically CD4 cells (also known as T cells). Untreated, HIV harms these special cells. Hence the immune system can’t fight off infections and diseases.

Because of the recent researches and development in the latest treatments, it is possible for HIV-positive people to lead a regular life with a near-normal life span. Only the condition being, such humans should take their antiretroviral treatments regularly.

HIV Transmission – The lesser known Facts:

The bodily fluids that can transmit HIV include:

∙ Vaginal and rectal fluids

∙ Breast milk

∙ Semen

∙ Blood

More ways how HIV spreads from person to person includes:

∙ The most common route of transmission is sex; anal and vaginal sex alike.

∙ While injecting drug using the same needle, syringes, and other items.

∙ In pregnancy, during labor or delivery from a woman to her baby.

∙ While breastfeeding.

∙ By coming in contact with the blood of an HIV affected human.

∙ By premasticating or pre-chewing the food for baby.

By an organ or tissue transplant and also through blood transfusion the virus can get transmitted.

HIV doesn’t get transmitted through:

  • By touching, hugging, kissing
  • Sharing space, air or water
  • Eating food or sharing drinks
  • Being in contact with someone’s saliva, tears, or sweat unless mixed with the blood of a person with HIV.
  • When sharing a toilet, towel, or bed.

Medications for HIV:

A healthy human possesses CD4 around 500 to 1500 per cubic millimeter. Without the treatment, HIV will continuously harm and destroy these cells. Hence once HIV is detected, the treatment should start immediately. Antiretroviral therapy, a combination of medication regularly will stop the virus from reproducing. It also reduces the probability of HIV transmission.

As per the sources, 25 antiretroviral therapy medications can treat HIV. This will reduce the chances of destroying CD4 cells and makes your immunity strong. It will not cause further complications related to HIV.

Prevention for HIV:

Highest chances of spreading HIV are through anal or vaginal sex with no condom. The risk is considerably less if taken a few precautions.

  • Medical checkup for HIV to know the status of you and your partner.
  • A checkup for other sexually transmitted infections, which if positive should get treated, as STI can increase the chances of developing HIV.
  • The use of a condom is a must in such cases. One needs to learn the correct way to use it, and it is must weather through vaginal or anal intercourse. Always remember that pre-seminal fluids can contain HIV.
  • If you are HIV negative, you should start taking Truvada pills for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis refers to protecting yourself from contracting HIV-1)
  • Make sure while taking Truvada pills you are continuing with safer sex practices as only the pill won’t help you alone. Also, remember it has serious side effects such as worsening Hepatitis B infection.

AIDS: A Threat:

The first stage of HIV is Acute HIV Infection, second is Clinical Latency, and third is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) which develops when your immune system is destroyed badly. At this stage, your body is open to opportunistic infections. When your immune system is damaged, diseases caused by viruses, fungi, bacteria make you vulnerable sick which if you had good immune system wouldn’t make you sick.

If no treatment is offered to an HIV-positive, it destroys CD4 cells, and it reaches to the level of 200 counts or less. Once the count goes below 200 the person has AIDS. Also if a person affected by HIV develops any opportunistic disease which is associated with HIV, that person may develop AIDS even after having CD4 cell count above 200.

Symptoms include:

∙ Dark splotches inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids and also under the skin.

∙ Drastic weight loss

∙ Rashes, bumps, lesions of the skin

∙ Depression and anxiety

∙ Chronic Diarrhea

∙ Swollen lymph glands

∙ Night Sweats

∙ Fever and chronic fatigue

The complication of AIDS is treatable. The treatment, however, is different for every individual keeping in mind their level of sickness.

Disclaimer: The views of authors published on South Africa Today are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of South Africa Today. By viewing, visiting, using, or interacting with, you are agreeing to all the provisions of the Terms of Use Policy and the Privacy Policy.