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Stages of HIV Infection explained, get tested on time to live longer

HIV infection affects a person’s health over the years, HIV is a tiny virus carried in the blood in male and female sex fluids and the breastwork of an HIV infected person.

To understand how we can live longer being HIV positive, we need to understand the mechanism of HIV. We need to understand how it enters the body, how it spreads and then what we can do to prevent the virus from increasing and thereby starts killing you. So let us move in stages

How HIV spreads?

HIV infected fluids can enter a person’s body through breaks in the skin and enter the blood. Tiny police cells are present in the blood to protect a person from germs that cause infections such as TB and the flu etc. These polycells are called CD4 cells. HIV harms the body by attacking the CD4 cells and making the body more prone to other illness, causing germs.

The good news is that a person with HIV who lives a healthy lifestyle gets regular medical care and takes medication can live for 25 years or more.

After infection, however, the individual who fails to take these steps will experience a series of infections. The patient loses weight and usually die within 10 to 12 years. A person who has HIV but does not get treatment by a doctor or nurse will go through the following stages.

Stages of Infection Time after infection
Acute HIV Infection 2 to 6 weeks
Stage One 1 to 5 years
Stage Two 6 to 9 years
Stage Three 9 to 11 years
Stage Four 11 to 12 years

Acute HIV infection

At some time during the first month or so after HIV enters the body the person may have a flu-like illness. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, rash, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and sore throat. Some people have no symptoms at all.

The viral levels at this time are very high because at first, the body is unable to fight the virus during this time. The HIV antibody test is negative this is called the window period. Within about one to two months the body begins to produce antibodies to fight the virus, the viral levels drop.

The rapid HIV antibody test detects these antibodies and not the virus. A blood test can be done in the STD testing center to measure how many CD4 cells a person has this test is called the CD4 count. During this time of acute HIV infection, the CD4 count goes from a normal level of 1200 down to about 900. The viral levels at this time are very high because at first, the body is unable to fight the virus. Within about one to two months the body begins to produce antibodies to fight the virus and viral levels drop. After the initial infection, the body can effectively fight the HIV for about five years.

HIV Stage 1

This period is called Stage 1 during this time the CD4 police cell levels drop from about 900 to 500 at the same time the HIV levels in the blood slowly rise. Although generally symptom-free a person in this stage can still pass the virus on to others from
about six to nine years after infection.

HIV Stage 2

A person is in stage two of HIV infection during this phase the CD4 count may go down from about 500 to 350.At the same time the HIV levels in the blood slowly rise. The swollen glands appear in the neck armpits or in the groin. A person may feel weak and tired and experience fevers and weight loss. As the number of CD4 cells is now so low that other germs that cause infections find it easier to invade the body. This makes it so choose coughs and colds skin, rashes shingles, fungal nail infections and mouth sores become more common in this stage.

HIV Stage 3

After about nine to eleven years of HIV infection, the CD4 count drops below 350 and the person enters stage 3. HIV viral levels continue to increase, in addition to all areas listed above, a person may have abdominal pain, ongoing diarrhea, cough, and headaches. Additionally painful blisters of the mouth or genitals may happen again and again.

HIV Stage 4

Within about 11 or 12 years of HIV infection without medical treatment, a person enters stage 4, another name for stage 4 is AIDS. The CD4 count drops below 200 and the body begins to lose its long battle against HIV. Viral levels are high in the blood, severe life-threatening infections can occur at this stage.

Why is it so necessary to get tested for HIV regularly?

It is estimated that about +25% of the HIV patients are diagnosed well before they should have begun treatment. So the regular testing becomes inevitable especially if you are having sex with multiple partners or when entering a new relationship or after casual sex or hookups.

The best indicator of how long a person has had HIV for is the patient’s police cell CD4+ cell count per microlitre. It declines on average by 55% to 60% per year with undiagnosed patients. The proportion of CD4 + cells is less than 350 cells per microlitre at diagnosis. Thus HIV testing becomes so crucial for living longer.

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What is the hope, which is the best treatment to extend life after HIV?

ARVs work better if started before the later stages of HIV. The decision of when to start ARVs is made by your healthcare provider. These can dramatically reduce the HIV in the blood. Other medicines may be prescribed to prevent and treat other infections such as TB, it is very important that once ARVs are started that they are taken as directed. If doses are missed or the ARV stopped entirely the ARVs may stop, it may be catastrophic.

What is ARVs (Antiretroviral drugs)?

HIV takes over the CD4 cell, making it a factory that produces many copies of HIV. Antiretroviral drugs (AR) these work by blocking the different steps in that process. After a person is infected by HIV, the virus flows around in the bloodstream.

HIV takes over the CD4 cell, making it a factory that produces many copies of HIV. Antiretroviral drugs (AR) these work by blocking the different steps in that process. After a person is infected by HIV, the virus flows around in the bloodstream.

When the virus bumps into a CD4 cell, the virus attaches and gains entry. ARV is called entry blockers(Fuzeon, Celsentri) stop this first step.

The virus carries instructions to the cell (DNA) on how to construct new copies of the HIV virus the message is copied into a different form so the cell can understand it better this step is blocked by ARV’s called NRTI’s and NNRTIs. Thus the virus prevents multiplication of HIV cells in the body and blocks the new entrants.