HIV & AIDS
Worried you may have HIV? Book an appointment for STD testing or treatment today at an Obria Medical Clinic near you.
It is important to catch HIV before it develops into AIDS, a disease which can be life threatening. Take control of your health today and gain peace of mind by booking an appointment for confidential and low-cost HIV testing or treatment at an Obria clinic near you.
What is HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)?
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a serious sexually transmitted disease that negatively impacts the body’s immune system, eventually giving rise to AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome if left untreated, which has no cure.
Learning and understanding about HIV and AIDS and the symptoms of HIV can help reduce your chances of infection and aid in prevention.
How is HIV spread?
HIV can be spread a number of ways.
HIV is most commonly spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. HIV can also be spread by sharing needles with infected persons and, less commonly, the disease can be spread when blood infected with HIV contacts an open cut or wound of another person. HIV is spread “fluid to fluid,” meaning an infected person’s secretions need to come in contact with the mucous membranes or blood stream of another.
Pregnant women can also pass HIV to their infant during childbirth.
Pregnant women with HIV or AIDS are at risk of passing HIV to their children either in the womb, during delivery or while breast-feeding. A March of Dimes study concluded that 1 in 4 of babies born to HIV/AIDS mothers who are not receiving treatment are born infected. However, when HIV/AIDS mothers are receiving the correct treatment, the percentage of their babies born with HIV drops to less than two percent. 1
If you are pregnant and think you have HIV, get tested and treated as soon as possible.
Is HIV treatable?
There is no cure for HIV. However, HIV can be effectively treated with an ongoing course of drugs which the infected person must take regularly.
This medication is extraordinarily successful at slowing the spread of HIV throughout one’s body and people living with the disease can expect to live decades after contracting the virus given proper care.
It is possible for individuals on this medication to live long and healthy lives and not transmit HIV to their partners during sexual activity.
If left untreated, however, HIV will progress into AIDS, a life-threatening auto-immune disease that has no cure – as such, it is a disease which is avoided through prevention, not through treatment (as treatment will not cure you of HIV). It is therefore of utmost importance to get regularly tested for STD/STIs if you have an active sex life with multiple partners, as HIV must be caught as early as possible for care to be effective, as well as help prevent further spread of the disease.
It is important to note that you don’t “catch AIDS” from someone – you instead contract HIV from an infected person, which then can eventually develop into AIDS if left untreated long enough.
How do you test for HIV?
HIV testing is done via blood test that measures the antibodies present in the blood. It is possible to detect HIV 18 to 45 days after exposure when using antigen/antibody tests.
Symptoms & Stages of HIV Infection
There are various symptoms of HIV infection that differ in accordance with what stage of HIV the individual may be in.
Stage 1 - Acute HIV Infection
The first HIV symptoms to usually arise are flu-like symptoms around 2-4 weeks after infection such as:
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- swollen lymph nodes
- extreme fatigue.
However, individuals in this stage can also exhibit no symptoms at all. 2
Stage 2: Clinical Latency/Chronic HIV Infection
This stage is marked by a period in which the individual may feel no symptoms, but the virus is multiplying within the body.
It is possible to remain in the Clinical Latency stage for 10-15 years, however, for some this stage will be accelerated.
For those receiving treatment within this stage, it is possible to maintain an undetectable viral load, allowing these individuals to live a long, excellent quality of life without transmitting HIV to their partner.
By contrast, for those with a detectable viral load who have not received treatment it is possible to transmit HIV to their partners during this stage, making HIV treatment paramount to stopping the spread.2
Stage 3: AIDS
If you do not receive treatment for HIV, the disease will eventually develop into AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which is characterized by a severely weakened immune system, which can be deadly.
While many symptoms of AIDS are brought on by Opportunistic Infections, or infections that tend to be more prevalent and severe in individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those living with HIV.
Symptoms of AIDS include:
- Rapid weight loss
- fever and night sweats
- Extreme fatigue
- Swollen lymph glands
- Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals
- Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids 2
It’s important to be tested for HIV before it develops into AIDS, which can be deadly.
AIDS can be life threatening, but due to successful treatment, the majority of individuals in the United States living with HIV do not advance to AIDS.
By staying in care, adhering to prescribed HIV medication, and maintaining an undetectable viral load, you can ensure your health and prevent progression to AIDS.
Submit to HIV testing at the first manifestation of symptoms.
HIV and AIDS are life threatening, so the symptoms of HIV should never be ignored – educate yourself on prevention and on the facts about the virus and resultant syndrome.
HIV is an STD, and as such, STD prevention techniques remain applicable.
That said, it is important to note that HIV is incurable and as such should be afforded a tremendous amount of attention and understanding. HIV prevention falls in line with STD/STI prevention – proper use of condoms reduces risk of transmission during sex with infected partners to less than 1%, abstinence is completely effective and relations with HIV negative partners is also completely effective.
Need HIV testing or treatment? Book an appointment for STD testing or treatment today.
If you believe you might have HIV, please call or schedule an appointment with an Obria Medical Clinic for a confidential low-cost HIV test. Our caring and compassionate staff will be here for you every step of the way.
1. Editor. (2023, June 1). HIV/AIDS during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/hiv-aids-during-pregnancy/
2. HIV.gov. (2022, June 15). What are HIV and AIDS?. HIV.gov. https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids