How to know if you have HIV?
Since almost thirty years the whole world is desperately trying to defeat the Syndrome of Acquired Immune Deficiency – since the WHO launched the Global AIDS Program in 1987. The fact that everyone knows about this disease is already a good trend: these days it is not so easy to get infected if you do not do anything wrong.
HIV is a virus that damages the immune system.
The disease can weaken the immune system to a certain point when the body begins to develop so-called opportunistic diseases to which a healthy immune system can resist. Getting into the human’s body, the virus weakens the immune system by attacking certain cells designed to combat health problems, i.e. T-lymphocytes or CD4 cells. Over time, it destroys so many of these cells that the body can no longer resist to certain types of cancer, viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites.
In most cases, the onset of the infection is completely asymptomatic. The duration of its development in the body depends heavily on various factors, including the overall health status of the HIV-positive person. That is why many people do not have any symptoms of the problem. But others may have symptoms resembling flu already in several weeks or even a few days after exposure to the disease. That can be a fever, rapid fatigue, increased lymph nodes on the neck. Usually these symptoms disappear in a few weeks. However it may take years before a person notices any changes in his health and during this period he can make his partner infected.
When the immune system weakens there are following symptoms indicating at possible HIV infection which must put you on the alert:
- Loss of energy.
- Weight loss.
- Frequent fever and sweating.
- Chronic fungal disorders.
- Permanent skin rash and peeling of the skin.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Herpetic eruptions in the area of the mouth, genitals or anus.
The fact of infection can be established in 25 days – 3 months after a contact (in some cases up to six months) with the help of a special test – a blood examination that detects antibodies to the virus. The period between the entry of the ultramicrobe into the body and the formation of antibodies in the blood is called the window period. During this period results of blood examination may be negative. Therefore, in order to obtain a reliable result, it is necessary to repeat the examination in three to six months after possible contact with the ultramicrobe. During the window period the blood, sperm, vaginal discharge and breast milk of an HIV-infected person contain the virus in a concentration sufficient to infect other people.
Of course, those people who look completely healthy can be carriers of the infection as well. So the guarantee can be obtained only after a certified test.