Symptoms of HIV
A person having HIV goes through different stages as the illness progresses.
Stage One: Primary Infection also called Acute HIV
Patients begin to display symptoms within one or two months of the virus entering their body. These symptoms are similar to that of flu and can last for a few weeks. At this time, the infection spreads quickly since the amount of virus in the blood is high. Patients display symptoms such as:
?†††† Swelling in the lymph glands, especially in the neck
?†††† Sore throat
?†††† Muscular pain
?†††† Joint pain
Stage Two: Chronic HIV, also called Clinical Latent Infection
The duration of this stage depends on individual patients. Even without treatment, some patients show no symptoms aside from perhaps, swollen lymph nodes that happen frequently. This stage can last for about 10 years in most cases and if the patient begins treatment by taking the antiretroviral medicines, they can survive for decades without progressing to the next stage.
Stage Three: Initial HIV Infection
As the virus spreads in the body and eliminates the T cells, patients begin to catch infections all the time. They are also likely to display symptoms such as:
?†††† Fever and fatigue or exhaustion
?†††† Swelling in the lymph nodes
?†††† Loss of weight
?†††† Herpes zoster also called shingles
?†††† Thrush, a form or yeast infection of the mouth
Stage Four: AIDS
If the patient has not received any kind of treatment, he/she is likely to develop AIDS within ten years of the virus first entering his/her body. At this stage, even the most basic of infections that any normal person can easily fight off, begin to affect the patient in a serious way. Some symptoms include:
?†††† Fever that cannot be cured
?†††† Loss of weight
?†††† Permanent exhaustion that has no apparent cause
?†††† Heavy sweating at night
?†††† Incurable diarrhea
?†††† Skin rash or bumps on the skin
?†††† White spots or strange sores in the mouth that donít heal
Treatment for HIV
While there is no cure for HIV, it can be controlled by taking combinations of medications. It is never advisable to take drugs from a single class only. This is because the virus can mutate into forms that are resistant to that particular class. These are the typical classes of HIV medications:
?†††† Entry or fusion inhibitors: Maraviroc (Selzentry), and Enfuvirtide (Fuzeon)
?†††† Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs): Lamivudine-zidovudine (Combivir), Emtricitabine-tenofovir (Truvada), and† Abacavir (Ziagen)
?†††† Integrase inhibitors: Dolutegravir (Tivicay), Elvitegravir (Vitekta), and Raltegravir (Isentress)
?†††† Protease inhibitors (PIs): Indinavir (Crixivan), Fosamprenavir (Lexiva),† Darunavir (Prezista), and Atazanavir (Reyataz)
?†††† Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs): Nevirapine (Viramune), Etravirine (Intelence), and Efavirenz (Sustiva)
By making certain lifestyle changes, patients can stay healthy and fight off the infection better. Along with medication, they can adopt these measures:
?†††† Avoiding foods that can carry infections such as raw seafood like sushi, and raw eggs. It is also advisable to cook meat until it is well done.
?†††† Getting the proper vaccinations can help make the body immune to certain diseases like flu or pneumonia. However, these vaccinations must be taken under the supervision of a doctor and care must be taken to see that they donít contain live viruses.
?†††† Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of energy-giving foods can help strengthen the weakened immune system.
?†††† Protecting the patient from animal or bird carried infections is also very essential.
Precautions to Take for HIV Patients
Despite the stigma attached to the disease, patients must let their family know about their condition and protect them from it. These are some of the precautions they must take:
?†††† Never have unprotected sex without a fresh condom, every time. It is also very essential to inform the partner about the patient having HIV.
?†††† Always insist on using a clean needle and syringe to take drugs.
?†††† On getting pregnant, get treatment immediately to protect the unborn fetus.
?†††† Think about getting male circumcision.
?†††† Talk to your doctor about medicines that can lower the risk of getting HIV.
Although a very dangerous disease, awareness and an understanding of the disease can help prevent it. And, if a patient has been unfortunate and is exposed to the virus, he/she can take many precautions and treatment to keep the disease under control. With the proper help, HIV/AIDS patients can live a healthy life.