World HIV Day

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Since the first known case of HIV in 1959 in Congo, HIV has swept the whole world and killed over 35 million people. This is almost double the population of the Netherlands, which is highly painful to comprehend. However, there has been some success stories along the way, with a lot of people being cured of HIV.  After looking at these different cases you will find similarities, people’s survival rate of HIV is dependant on the detection speed. In other words, the quicker you get tested the more chance you have of being cured or preventing death via HIV. Britain is not an anomaly to this virus, with 103,700 people reported to have HIV. More concerningly, 18100 are completely unaware they have the condition. Highlighting the importance of the upcoming world HIV testing day to ensure people get tested.         

What we know so far

HIV destroys white blood cells called T-helper and in particular the adaptive immune system. These cells play an essential role in the functionality of our immune system. Once it enters the immune system the HIV replicates itself. 

When your immune system is impacted, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin issues
  • Sweety nights
  • Recurrent infections

The three main stages of HIV infection are as follows:

Asymptomatic – Patients experience no symptoms

Symptomatic – Experience Fevers  

Late-stage HIV infection

Aids syndrome

You can find more information on HIV symptoms on our advice page  

Can HIV be cured?

The first 24-72 hours of being exposed to HIV is very important to the overall diagnosis of the virus. During these hours, you must take a medication called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis to decrease the chances of contracting the disease. This medication will not work if you don’t continue taking it for at least 28 days. Although there is a chance that these medications won’t work, the longer its delayed the lower the probability of it working. This is why days like HIV testing day is important because it forces people to discuss these issues.

Unfortunately, if you do go on to contract the viruses, it is incurable in most cases but we do have other medications that enable people to live normal lives. Your immune system produces a specific type of antibody when a virus enters your body. New viral tests have been made which is able to reveal the entire history of viral infection. This testing method outlines the level of CD4+ve lymphocyte cells and if it’s at 350 or below, it indicates that this is the ideal time to start with ARV treatment.

ARVs treatment or antiretrovirals is used to reduce the duplication of the virus. This drastically hinders the development of HIV and after first consumption, most people continue to take this medication.

 What you might not know

Below is a list of few facts that you might not know about HIV  

  • HIV can be transmitted through breastfeeding
  • 49% of people who have aids are completely unaware of their condition
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, young women are twice as likely to acquire HIV
  • Antiretroviral therapy has been the primary contributor to a 48% decline in deaths from AIDS-related causes in 2016.
  • Homosexual men contributed to 12% of new infections in 2015 globally.
  • 39% of people who were newly diagnosed in the UK in 2015 were treated at a late stage of HIV infections.

Conclusion

Although there have been some positive developments in the treatment of HIV, it still has a long way to go. The most concerning factor of HIV is the number of people that are completely unaware that they carry the virus. The lack of early symptoms is why it’s vital to get tested. Additionally,  there are many 100% confidential services like private std clinics that pride on keeping your information private. If you still feel uncomfortable to go to the clinic and get tested, you can always order HIV home testing kit and get your results in the comfort of your own home.

HIV viruses can be contracted easier than many people think which emphasizes the need for everyone to get tested.

For more information on how HIV viruses are transmitted, please refer to our advice page.