Our immune system is a protective structure which helps the body struggle with infection and harmful agents.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an infection which affects special immune CD4 cells. When the number of these safety elements becomes dramatically decreased the body loses its ability to overcome diseases.
In the advanced stages HIV leads to the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The problem is that HIV can persist and multiply in the body without causing any complaints and symptoms in the early stages.
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For two to four weeks after getting the infection, some people experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes and a sore throat. In the vast majority of cases patients confuse their condition with a common cold and don't get tested for HIV.
As this acute retroviral syndrome passes, the clinical latency stage begins. That means, the HIV virus exists and reproduces in the body but not fast enough to cause any symptoms.
The duration of a chronic HIV infection can vary from person to person. On average it lasts for several years, slowly killing your immune cells.
If left untreated, immunodeficiency virus progresses and the illness moves into the AIDS stage.
You can't catch HIV in the bus when somebody coughs near you. This infection spreads only through blood, semen, breast milk and vaginal and pre-seminal liquids. If these contaminated fluids make contact with damaged tissue or the mucous membrane of the genitals, rectum and mouth, or are directly brought into the blood flow through a needle or syringe, virus transmission can occur.
Sexual transmission is the most frequent way of getting this infection among Americans.
Those who have homosexual or bisexual relations, often change partners or share needles experience especially high risks of contracting an HIV infection.
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You can reduce your risks of this life-threatening disease by following the simple basics of HIV prevention.
#1. Using protection during sex – having unprotected intercourse is extremely risky, especially if you're sexually active and don't know your partner's HIV status. Use condoms for vaginal, anal and oral (in men) sex to avoid HIV transmission.
#2. Apply lubricant – lubes can not only improve pleasure but also decrease the risk of vaginal/anal tears and prevent condoms from rupturing.
#3. Only use sterile needles and syringes – HIV can be transmitted through sharing needles and other blood-contacted equipment, that’s why it’s so important to use only sterile attachments.
#4. Get tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections – for everyone it's worth knowing your HIV status. Remember that certain sexually transmitted diseases like trichomoniasis, gonorrhea and others can boost your risks of HIV/AIDS extremely.
#5. Talk about prophylaxis – if your partner is HIV positive, or if you often prefer unprotected sex without knowing the HIV status of your partner, your doctor can recommend taking pre-exposure prophylaxis. Another good option is post-exposure prophylaxis, which can be taken after you experience risky events in your life. Consult with your healthcare provider about the possible methods of drug prevention.
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