If HIV ( Human immunodeficiency virus) is left untreated or ignored can progress into different stages of HIV infection. 1.1 million people in the U.S have become victims of HIV infection. Among them, 15% of the population is not even aware that it is suffering from such a critical health problem.
The negligence among the masses is making the current scenario worst by spreading the disease among HIV-negatives.
Concerns regarding HIV are rising globally. Therefore awareness is being created worldwide to prevent the spread of the disease.
Antiretroviral therapy and HIV viral load
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is being used to prevent the progress into different stages of HIV infection. Although there is no permanent cure for HIV, ART can reduce the viral load to undetectable levels.
HIV Viral load is a blood test used to measure the amount of HIV. Viral load between 40 to 75 copies/ml is usually undetectable in the blood.
The Greater viral load increases the risk of HIV infection progression and can ultimately lead to AIDS. Therefore, ART is supposed to be effective against HIV infection.
Different Stages of HIV infection Infection
There are 3 different stages of HIV infection.
- Acute HIV infection
- Chronic HIV Infection
- AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
Acute HIV Infection
Acute HIV Infection or acute retroviral syndrome is the first stage of HIV infection. Infection develops within 2 to 4 weeks after the initial contact with HIV. In its early stage virus multiplies rapidly, therefore, the body produces antibodies against the virus to fight, but unlike other viruses or pathogens, our immune system is unable to fight HIV. Hence HIV spreads throughout the body and attacks the CD4 cells (part of our immune system).
The transmission rate is also higher in the first stage that’s why early diagnosis of the disease is crucial to prevent its spread. Sometimes this early stage goes undiagnosed, and the virus may proceed to the later-stage HIV lifecycle.
Symptoms of acute HIV infection are similar to those of other viral infections like flu and cold. Other common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscular pain
- Loss of appetite
- different types of ulcers
Symptoms of Acute HIV infection vary from person to person. Symptoms also depend on the health condition of the person.
Asymptotic or Chronic HIV Infection
It is the second stage of HIV infection. It is referred to as the asymptomatic stage of HIV because after the first stage of HIV infection when the virus enters its second stage it slows down its replications, and symptoms disappear. During this stage, there is a severe decline in CD4 cell count. This decline weakens and destroys the immune system of the body.
Using Antiretroviral therapy is thought to be highly beneficial and effective in this stage because without ART viral load increases to a greater extent. Increased viral load then ultimately leads to AIDS. With ART and HIV victim can survive up to 10 or more years in this stage without further increase in the viral load. Treatment can also prevent its transmission and increase longevity.
AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)
AIDS is the last and the most advanced stage of HIV infection. In this stage, the CD4 count falls below 200cells/mm3. The immune system is badly damaged, and the person is severely prone to various opportunistic diseases.
Opportunistic diseases invade when the body’s immune system is highly damaged, and they find the opportunity to destroy the body further. Different opportunistic diseases associated with AIDS are:
- Cervical cancer
- kaposi’s sarcoma( Skin cancer)
- Wasting Syndrome
- Burkitt’s Lymphoma
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
- Candidiasis etc