The Real Cause of HIV

By Carolina Olea

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV, is one of the most serious, deadliest viruses in human history. HIV damages white blood cells called T cells and weakens the immune system. HIV is three stages, 1) acute infection, 2) clinical latency, 3) AIDS. HIV has no cure. What is the real cause of HIV to you?

How is HIV transmitted? How common is this disorder?

HIV is transmitted by having unprotected sex, sharing needles, body fluids, such as semen, pre-seminal fluid, and breast milk, and also birth from a person is HIV positive. Every 9 1/2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV. There are over 56,000 new cases of HIV in the U.S each year.

What are the symptoms of HIV? What part of the body is affected?

HIV has quite a lot of symptoms such as fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and mouth ulcers. The immune system is the most affected in the body. If gone undiagnosed, the virus will developed all three stages quicker and give you a shorter life span.

What diagnostic tests are done?

ELISA test, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is performed to check for HIV. The ELISA test uses antibodies ad color change to identify a substance. HIV RNA tests are tests that have been developed to detect HIV RNA in a person's blood. It's usually done for newborns with a parent who is HIV-positive. Another test is the combination test. The HIV combination test detects antibodies directed against HIV-1 or HIV-2. It's important because it takes weeks for the antibodies to form after the initial infection even if the virus is already in the blood. It also allows to detect HIV infections faster.

What medications are given? Prevention for HIV?

The top medications given to HIV-positive people are multi-class combination drugs, nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and protease inhibitors. All these medications help stop the virus from spending and infecting the whole body but it could not cure it. To protect yourself from HIV remember to always wear protection, get tested and know your partner's HIV status, don't inject used needles, but the most effective one is abstinence. A simple mistake can cause big consequences. Be safe.