What are the symptoms of HIV ?
What are the symptoms of HIV and what happens to your body when you are Positive?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that (if untreated) causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV destroys CD4 cells in your body, making it harder for your body to fight off infections. Untreated HIV can make even a minor infection (like a cold) more severe because the body has difficulty healing.
Within 2-4 weeks of infecting the body, HIV (the virus) multiplies attacking CD4 cells, causing an initial infection with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, rash, sore throat, swollen glands, joint or muscle pain, etc.
However, not all people with HIV experience have flu-like symptoms. HIV (the virus) is still active irrespective of the symptoms.
After this stage, unfortunately, the HIV infected individual will not show ANY SYMPTOM OR SIGN or HIV infection till he reaches stage 4 when he develops AIDS and opportunistic infections. During the entire quiescent phase, the individual continues to be infectious. Only a blood test can at this stage detect an HIV infection.
HIV does not make you sick, but it weakens your immune system, allowing other illnesses and infections to make you sick. Those with HIV and AIDS are usually susceptible to tuberculosis and other kinds of otherwise rare infections of the lung–such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, infections of the surface covering of the brain, or meningitis, or the brain itself or encephalitis. The immune defect caused by having too few CD4 cells also permits some cancers that are stimulated by viral illness to occur.
What is CD4 Count? What does it mean for my health?
Your CD4 cell count gives you an indication of the health of your immune system – your body’s natural defence system against pathogens, infections and illnesses.
- A normal range for CD4 cells is about 500-1,500.
- People living with HIV who have a CD4 count over 500 are usually in pretty good health, and the HIV virus can be controlled with effective HIV treatment.
- When the CD4 count drops below 200, a person is diagnosed with AIDS.
By reducing the amount of HIV in the body, ART reduces the risk of HIV transmission. Your health care provider will develop a treatment plan will help you learn more about HIV, manage it effectively, and make decisions that help you live a long, healthy life.
What does viral load mean?
Viral load is the amount of HIV in the blood of a person living with HIV. It measures the exact number of free viruses in the blood stream. This is an indicator of how well the body is fighting the virus.
Typically, viral loads are high in the blood soon after acquiring HIV infection or when no treatment is taken. Viral loads are typically very low in someone who is on HIV treatment and is very regular in his medicines.