December 1 is World AIDS Day. Though we have come a long way in the development of HIV/AIDS treatment there is still no cure for this deadly disease.
What is HIV/AIDS?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, better known as HIV, is a disease that attacks important cells in the immune system that help fight off infections and disease. As HIV progresses the virus will eventually destroy enough T-cells, or CD4 cells, that your body will no longer be able to fight away diseases. This is when HIV becomes full-blown AIDS, the final stage of the disease.
How do I get HIV?
HIV is transmitted through certain bodily fluids including
- Pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal fluids
- Rectal mucous
- Breast milk
The most common ways HIV is transmitted is through
- Unprotected sex
- Injection from a contaminated needle during drug use
- Pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding
- Blood transfusion
- Occupational hazard (particularly for healthcare professionals)
Early signs and symptoms of HIV are
- Night Sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Mouth ulcers
- Swollen lymph nodes
HIV patients can live relatively normal lives with early diagnosis and proper treatment. HIV is known as a retrovirus and is treated with antiretroviral therapy drugs. These drugs reduce the amount of HIV in your body and work to keep your immune system strong. HIV drugs also reduce the risk of passing the disease to a partner.
Young people ages 13-35 accounted for 21% of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. in 2016. This disease is still very much a persistent issue in America and around the world. You can protect yourself by practicing abstinence or safe sex, as well as by being monogamous and getting tested regularly.
If you’ve never been tested for HIV but think you could be at risk getting a test could save your life and the lives of future partners. You can request testing for HIV and other STDs from your healthcare provider including the providers at EliteCare. To request an appointment click here.