Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): Symptoms, Treatment, and Effects

Unfortunately, HIV is becoming an increasingly common ailment. And these are not horror stories for the night or baseless panic fears. According to official sources, around 25 million people have died from HIV infection (human immunodeficiency virus) worldwide. About 25 million people also live with this disease, most of whom are children.

In Russia, almost a million people suffer from HIV infection. What are the characteristic properties of human immunodeficiency virus? It is very important to know to prevent infection or, at least, to detect it as soon as possible.

The article will discuss what HIV infection is and what causes the human immunodeficiency virus. The disease is quite common and dangerous, so it is important to know about it as much as possible. Also in the article we will discuss issues of symptoms, treatment and prevention of illness.

But first, let's get acquainted with the characteristics of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes a serious infectious disease.

Retrovirus.What it is?

If we talk about the characteristic properties of human immunodeficiency virus, then it should definitely be mentioned that it belongs to retroviruses, which predominantly infect vertebrates.

HIV virus

It affects the cells of the human immune (defense) system, but not all, but only those that have CD4 receptor on their surface. These are primarily monocytes, T-helper cells, macrophages, microglia, and so on.

What is dangerous

Why is HIV so bad (human immunodeficiency virus)? All this was due to the fact that, by damaging the immune system, it depresses it, as a result of which AIDS can develop. Due to the effect of the virus, the human body loses its ability to protect against various infections, tumors and other diseases. Because of this, a person is susceptible to infection with numerous pathogenic microbes and bacteria, which can cause premature death.

If you do not treat HIV infection, the probability of death increases (this can happen ten years after infection). If the patient is regularly undergoing antiretroviral therapy, then he may live seventy, or even eighty years.

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A bit of history

Opened this virus recently, in 1983. It is noteworthy that it was studied simultaneously in two laboratories of the world - in research institutes in France and the United States. A few years before, an unknown pathology at that time was already under observation. Young homosexuals, as well as drug addicts, identified diseases that are very rare and only in a certain category of the population.

Even then, when describing the characteristics of the human immunodeficiency virus, it was stated that it is capable of causing an acquired immune deficiency syndrome called AIDS.

How does the infection occur?

This is a very important question, as it will help not only to find out whether you are at risk, but also to implement the necessary preventive measures to prevent infection.

So, how does a person become infected with human immunodeficiency virus? You should know that it can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the body (regardless of whether they are damaged or not), as well as through the damaged skin of a healthy individual after contact (direct contact) with the biological material of a sick person.Such biological fluids that are potentially hazardous include: blood, pre-semen fluid and semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk.

From the above, we can conclude that the virus enters the body through mucous membranes and damaged skin. This is because the mucous membranes contain a large number of dendritic cells, which are particularly susceptible to the effects of the virus and serve as a vehicle for it, transferring the infected particles to the lymph nodes. Skin, on which even small invisible lesions are present, is also a carrier of infection. Thanks to microcracks, the virus enters the bloodstream and binds to the cell membranes.

virus in the bloodstream

Given all the above, it is possible to determine the ways of transmission of human immunodeficiency virus. First of all, it is unprotected sex, especially in the case of anal and oral sex. Infection is also possible if syringes, catheters or needles of an HIV-infected person are used. Blood transfusion is another way for the virus to enter the body of a healthy person, provided that the donor material has been unfairly tested by medical personnel. An infant from an infected mother can also become infected.This can happen even when the fetus is in the womb, or when the child passes through the birth canal. If the mother infected with the human immunodeficiency virus is breastfeeding the newborn, then it can be said with certainty that infection of the infant occurs this way.

However, this is not all. It is possible to become infected with an infection even if particles of saliva, tear fluid, and blood of people diagnosed with HIV have got on the damaged skin. Most often, doctors, laboratory technicians, or relatives of those infected are at risk. In domestic conditions, the risk of such a situation is minimal, but it still exists. The possible route of infection is if the carrier of the virus lives in the apartment, and direct contact has occurred with its biological material, for example, with piercing-cutting injuries. The virus itself is not able to exist for a long time in the environment, therefore it will not penetrate into the body of a healthy person through a common towel, slippers, dishes.

Characteristic disease

So, HIV is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. Most often, it progresses slowly, in a sluggish form.Nevertheless, objective factors influence the course of the disease. For example, the patient's age, virus strain, good nutrition, concomitant illnesses, timely and high-quality therapy.

Since the detection of the disease, it claimed millions of lives. It is noteworthy that a relatively small percentage of infected people die from the virus itself. The whole problem is that the human immunodeficiency virus infects the immune system, which means that the body's defenses are weakened, and the person himself is exposed to negative external factors.

How to identify the disease at an early stage to begin timely treatment?

Classification and manifestations of the disease

Very often, the symptoms of infection are individual. In some cases, it is possible and completely asymptomatic course of the disease. Often, the disease can only be detected during a routine examination or blood test. However, below we give the general symptoms of HIV, which appear in accordance with the stages of the development of the disease.

The incubation period is the very first stage of infection, it is characterized by the fact that the virus is actively spreading in the body.This stage passes unnoticed and can last from two weeks (with a weakened immunity) to twelve months. It is noteworthy that during this period it is difficult to detect the presence of a virus in the blood, even in laboratory conditions.

The second period, called the stage of primary manifestations, is characterized by the occurrence of unpleasant symptoms, which are a response to the reproduction of the virus in the bloodstream. Clearly, the symptoms are observed three months after infection and lasts only a few weeks. What should I look for during this period?

The patient should alert the fever. Thermometer performance may exceed 390C. Further (or at the same time) lymph nodes may increase, since it is in them that antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus are produced.


It is noteworthy that many people perceive these symptoms as a common cold and are in no hurry to contact a specialist.

A skin rash is a clear sign of the introduction of HIV infection into the body. Rashes are either red spots or small hemorrhages, the size of which can reach one centimeter.Formations on the epidermis are characterized by the fact that they tend to merge with each other, are located symmetrically on the skin of the body, at least on the neck or face. It is on these grounds that HIV infection can be suspected, although this rash is easily confused with other skin diseases.

When the virus reaches the intestinal mucosa, it interferes with the normal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, which can cause loose stools.

Often the development of infection is accompanied by inflammation in the pharynx and / or oral area. Angina, stomatitis and pharyngitis are the painful companions of HIV at this stage. Inflamed tonsils, congestion and swelling of the nasopharynx, sore throat - these symptoms cause anxiety and discomfort to the patient.

At the stage of primary manifestations, it is also possible to increase organs such as the spleen and liver, as well as the occurrence of autoimmune ailments that manifest themselves externally. This is psoriasis, seborrhea, and so on.

This is followed by a complicated period of infection, called the stage of secondary manifestations.

Severe illness

The stage of secondary infection is characterized by more severe symptoms.Depending on the severity of the symptoms, this period is divided into three stages:

  • The first. It occurs six or even ten years after infection. Manifested in low-sensible weight loss (up to ten percent of the original body weight), bacterial or fungal lesions of the epidermis and mucous membranes. A person suffers from shingles, sinusitis, boils, herpes, candidiasis. The patient's performance decreases markedly, constant fatigue, and lethargy occur.
  • The second stage. It may occur seven to ten years after the virus enters the body. It is characterized by a strong weight loss (over ten percent of the original body weight), long periods of temperature increase, prolonged, one might say, chronic diarrhea, deep epidermis lesions (this includes lichen or lichen-colored lichen, ruphitis, molluscum contagiosum). Lung damage is also possible (pneumonia, tuberculosis). On the lateral surface of the tongue, white formations may appear, similar to threads, which may appear on the mucous cheeks. On the skin can be determined by the so-called Kaposi's sarcoma, that is, a malignant tumor that develops from the vessels of the circulatory and / or lymphatic system.
  • Third stage.It occurs after ten, at least - twelve years after infection. This period is characterized by extreme exhaustion of the patient, complete loss of appetite, constant pronounced weakness. Non-healing erosions and ulcers occur on the skin, fungi and other harmful microorganisms infect the internal organs, causing parasitic and protozoal infections. Candidiasis of the respiratory tract or organs of the gastrointestinal tract, meningitis, various malignant tumors that are located in different parts of the body can develop. At the third stage, the heart and kidneys are affected, mycobacteria attack all vital organs, tuberculosis develops, and not only the lungs, but also the bones, the intestines, the brain. Pathologies cover the central nervous system. The patient loses the ability to move, suffers from dementia or a decrease in concentration.

After the stage of secondary manifestations, the terminal stage begins, characterized by aggravation of the above symptoms. At this stage of the progression of the disease, the treatment is already losing its effectiveness, and all lesions have irreversible consequences.After a couple of months, the person dies.

How to determine the insidious disease

To begin treatment, HIV infection should be identified and identified. For this, a person is issued a referral for a blood test. It is also called an HIV test. Due to this, it is possible to determine antibodies to a virus in the blood, which may indicate its presence in the body. If the analysis was positive, then an additional study is prescribed.

hiv analysis

If the child was born from an HIV-infected mother, then he also needs to take a biomaterial for tests. Such children are observed in clinics from the very moment of birth and up to three years, until doctors make sure that the baby is not infected with a virus.

If the infection has occurred, the child is prescribed the appropriate treatment.

How is the therapy of this pathology? Let's find out.

General information about the treatment

Before turning to the list of drugs involved in antiretroviral therapy, it should be said that modern medicine is not able to completely cure such a serious disease as HIV. And yet, people suffering from the disease should not despair, as they can prolong their lives with the help of complex therapy.

Drug treatment of human immunodeficiency virus is aimed at preventing the development of life-threatening conditions, ensuring relatively long-lasting improvement in the patient's well-being, prolonging the period of remission. However, much depends on the person himself.

First, HIV-infected people should set themselves up for a long-term (sometimes lifelong treatment), regular medication (preferably at the same time) and a healthy lifestyle.

First of all, you should give up bad habits, avoid stressful situations, look at everything in a positive way. It is also important to stick to a healthy balanced diet and not to forget about moderate exercise.

Recently, in our country, great importance is attached to the moral support of HIV-infected people and their relatives. Psychological trainings and conversations are held, special state programs are being implemented to provide HIV / AIDS patients with normal social conditions.

Infected patients have the right to work and medical care, education and the freedom to exercise their talents, personal life, and so on.Patients should be provided not only medical care, but psychological, helping a person to become a socially adapted person.

Pharmacological agents

Treatment of HIV infection includes the use of antiretroviral drugs, which are prescribed by the attending physician individually, based on the analyzes of the patient, his age and related illnesses.

medication for treatment

These drugs include:

  • NIOD. These inhibitors include active substances such as abacavir (Olitid, Ziagen), zidovudine (Azidothymidine, Timazide, Retrovir, Zidovudine-Ferein, Viro-Zet, and others), lamivudin (“Zeffix”, “Amiviren”, “Epivir TriTiSi”, “Virolam”), stavudine (“Woodistav”, “Vero-Stavudin”, “Aktastav” and so on), phosphazite (“Nikavir”) and many others.
  • NIODE. These inhibitors include active ingredients such as nevirapine (“Viramun”), elsulfavirin (“Ellida”), efavirenz (“Sustiva”, “Stocrin”, “Regast”) and others.
  • Protease inhibitors. In the pharmacological market, these drugs are represented by such drugs as “Agenerase”, “Ritonavir”, “Fortovaz”, “Crixivan” and many others.
  • Integrase inhibitors. The preparations "Isentress", "Vittekta" and "Tivikay".

These medicines are very expensive, especially when you consider that they need to be taken several times a day throughout life. In the Russian Federation, treatment of HIV infection is free, that is, it is funded by public funds. However, unfortunately, not all patients always have enough budget drugs. Therefore, some are forced to purchase medicines on their own, at their own expense.

Additional medicines

In addition to antiretroviral therapy, patients are prescribed other drugs. These can be vitamins and minerals complexes, dietary supplements, painkillers, and topical agents.

Disease prevention

It is clear that it is easier to prevent the disease than to cure it. Therefore, in this section we will discuss the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus. What should I know to avoid infection?

The main prevention measure is safe sex. It is best to have one regular partner. If the latter is infected with a virus,then during the act latex condoms should be used. However, they do not give an absolute guarantee of protection against the penetration of the virus into the body of a healthy person.

Also, as a preventive measure, try to avoid reusable syringes, needles, and so on. Be careful when visiting beauty salons - tools for manicure and tattoo must undergo a thorough decontamination.

If an HIV-infected woman is pregnant, then a caesarean section may be recommended to prevent infection of the infant.

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And of course, the most important prevention will be maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

A few words in conclusion

So, we found out what the human immunodeficiency virus is, how it is dangerous and how it is transmitted. It is very important to know the possible ways of infection. This will help protect themselves and their loved ones from a serious illness. Also, the symptoms of the manifestation of the disease were analyzed in detail, which should prompt an infected person to immediately consult a doctor and begin timely and high-quality treatment. Therapy for HIV infection is quite complicated and expensive, since it involves a lifelong intake of specialized drugs.

And yet, although the disease cannot be completely overcome, thanks to modern medicine today it is possible to prolong the life of people with HIV infection. Medications can not only relieve the symptoms, but also make the patient's life relatively satisfactory. Such people need social adaptation and love of relatives and friends. After all, HIV is not a sentence, it is just a disease that requires enhanced therapy.

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