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Sexually Transmitted Disease, HIV/ AIDS

HIV is a virus that weakens the immune system, which our body defense against illness. When the body infected with "HIV",  it is harder to fight with infections and diseases.

There are many different strains of HIV –  infected person may carry various different strains in their body. The two main types are:

  • HIV-1: the most common type found worldwide.
  • HIV-2: this is found mainly in Western Africa, with some cases in India and Europe.

HIV symptoms:

The symptoms of HIV can differ from person-to-person and some people may not get any symptoms at all.

When HIV virus entering the body, most of people experience flulike symptoms known as  Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS).
But sometimes HIV symptoms don't appear for years after infection.

One of five people in the world with HIV doesn't know they have it, which is why it is so important to get tested, especially if you have unprotected intimacy with more than one partner or use intravenous drugs or any other circumstances.
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Here are some signs that you may be HIV-positive:

  • Fever -One of the first signs of ARS (Acute Retroviral Syndrome) up to  39  degrees celcius.
  • Fatigue - The inflammatory response generated by your besieged immune system also can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. Fatigue can be both an early and later sign of HIV.
  • Achy muscles, joint pain – Acute Retroviral Syndrome is often mistaken for the flu, mononucleosis, hepatitis, syphilis or another viral infection. That’s why it is important to go through the test on time.
  • Sore throat and headache - As with other symptoms, sore throat and headache can often be recognized as acute retroviral syndrome.
  • Skin rash - Skin rashes can occur early or late in the course of HIV/AIDS.
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea - Up to 60% of people have nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea in the early stages of HIV.
  • Weight loss - Is a sign of more advanced illness and could be due in part to severe diarrhea.
  • Dry cough - A dry cough can be the first sign that something is wrong.
  • Pneumonia – As an opportunistic infection may cause while immune system is not able to work properly.
  • Night sweats - About 50%of people get night sweats during the early stages of HIV infection.
  • Nail changes - Sign of late HIV infection are nail changes, such as thickening and curving, splitting of the nails, or discoloration.
  • Yeast infections - Fungal infection that's common in later stages is thrush, a mouth infection caused by Candida.
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating - Cognitive problems could be a sign of HIV-related dementia, which usually occurs late in the course of the disease.
  • Cold sores or genital herpes - Cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes can be a sign of both early and late-stage HIV infection.
  • Menstrual irregularities - Advanced HIV disease appears to increase the risk of having menstrual irregularities, such as fewer and lighter periods.

If You're Worried That You Might Have Been Exposed to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

-  It’s important to get tested as soon as possible. Although the prospect of being diagnosed with the disease can be scary, today you can live a long and full life with HIV, especially if you start treatment early. Knowing you are infected can also help you take precautions so that you don't pass the virus to other people.

There are several types of tests that screen blood (and sometimes saliva) to see if you are infected with HIV.

Newer tests can detect the presence of HIV antigen, a protein, up to 20 days earlier than standard tests. This helps prevent spread of the virus to others and means an earlier start for treatment. It is done with a pinprick to the finger.

Here's a look at available HIV tests:                                                                                                           

Standard tests - These blood tests check for HIV antibodies. Your body makes antibodies in response to the HIV infection. These tests can't detect HIV in the blood soon after infection because it takes time for your body to make these antibodies. It's generally takes two to 8 weeks for your body to produce antibodies, but in some cases it can take up to six months.

In standard tests, a small sample of your blood is drawn and sent to a lab for testing. Some of the standard tests use urine or fluids that are collected from the mouth to screen for antibodies.

What's the specific window period for different types of HIV tests?

Antibody tests (“Rapid” tests) -gives a positive result based on antibodies to HIV, not the virus itself. It takes your body up to 3 months to produce these antibodies at levels that can be detected by this test.

  • 4-6 weeks (up to 3 months) after infection, most people will have enough antibodies to test positive.
  • 12 weeks (3 months) after infection, about 98% of people will have enough antibodies to test positive.

RNA tests - show a positive result based on the presence of the virus. These tests are more expensive than antibody tests, so are not offered in as many places.

  • 9-14 days after infection, there will be enough viral material for a positive result.

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