A lot of people think of HIV and AIDS as the same thing and it is easy to confuse the two. Although they are categorized as different diagnosis they are still very much interlinked with each other.There are many organizations to help people and children living with aids.
A simple explanation of HIV and the tests are done to determine the infection
- HIV is a virus and stands for “human immunodeficiency virus”. The virus only infects humans and as its name suggests it attacks a person immune system. This attack severely compromises the immune system rendering it unable to work effectively. It is not yet understood why our bodies systems are unable to fight back and clear the virus from our systems as they do to many others. But it can be controlled by medication.
- HIV is a virus and therefore as with viruses, it is contagious. The virus can be spread through:
- Unprotected sex with an infected person
- An infected mother can pass it on to her unborn child
- Using contaminated needles
- Tainted blood from a blood transfusion (with the tests run on blood today this is not very likely to happen)
- HIV presents at first with flu-like symptoms anywhere from two to four weeks after infection. This is called the acute infection stage and is followed by the latency period where the body can get control of the initial symptoms.
- Although the body can control the symptoms for a few years it is unable to completely get rid of the virus. Some infected people do not get any symptoms at all right up until they develop AIDS.
- HIV can be detected by a saliva or simple blood test. This test is designed tofind certain antibodies in your blood that your system has produced to try and fight the virus. But this kind of test can only be done several weeks after a person has been infected.
- There is another test that can be done a few days after suspected infection. The HIV virus produces antigens (proteins) that are detected by this test.
- Both HIV tests are quick and easy to administer and accurate.
HIV can be treated with medication enabling the infected person to live a normal healthy life for years. But even though the infected person is being treated they can still pass the virus on to another person.