Public service announcement, numerous brochures and articles warn about the hazards of risky behaviors. And those are not empty words. There is a high number of diseases, which can affect your body, when having unprotected sex or sharing needles. One of the most dangerous of them is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This infection destroys person's immune system, making it difficult for the organism to overcome diseases. HIV kills specific CD4 cells and make your body more predisposed to harmful influence of foreign agents, infections and cancer.

People get it with contaminated blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids. Americans usually become HIV through unprotected intercourses or when sharing needles and syringes. Unfortunately even today we don't have universal methods to eliminate this virus completely from the human's body. Once HIV enters the bloodstream, it would exist there during the whole life.

The good news is that nowadays it's possible to control course of the disease and propagation of the virus with special antiretroviral therapy. If taken properly, this medication can really prolong HIV sufferer's life, improving his or her well-being for many years.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

People with HIV often don’t even know that the problem exists. The reason is that this infection may live in the body for a long time, without causing any symptoms. Within two to four weeks after getting infection, most of people experience acute retroviral syndrome. Symptoms are the same with common cold, that's why people usually don't pay much attention on them. At the same time, virus grows and multiplies intensively during this period.

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Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

After several weeks HIV runs into the clinical latency stage, meaning that virus reproduces too slowly to cause any specific symptoms. This stage may last for tens of years. If not treated, HIV gradually goes into the last stage of disease, called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). In AIDS human's body becomes unable to struggle against infection and diseases. As a result, person is prone to severe opportunistic infections and certain (not typical) types of cancer. Though HIV symptoms are nonspecific, it's still possible to detect it on the early stages. Be aware about these signs of immunodeficiency:

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#1. Fever

Your immune system normally responds on infection and penetration of harmful substances with fever. Mild increase of body temperature is one of the earliest signs of HIV infection.

#2. Extreme fatigue

Inexplicable long-term tiredness and lack of energy may be caused by wide variety of medical reasons, including HIV.

#3. Enlarged glands

Lymph nodes are situated all over your body, being an essential part of the immune system. As HIV infection spreads and reproduces in the body, lymph nodes get swollen.

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Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#4. Muscle aches

Do you remember these aching muscles and painful joints when having a flu? Be aware that acute retroviral syndrome usually causes the same symptoms.

#5. Skin problems

Non-healing sores, new rashes, skin redness and flakiness may be the first signs of immunodeficiency. In addition to this, HIV-positive people are more likely to have herpes and shingles.

#6. Night sweats

It's may be not only about age-related hormonal fluctuations. Night sweats frequently occur in people with HIV, significantly impairing quality of sleep.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#7. Changes in menstruations

Women with immunodeficiency usually notice that their menstrual cycles become irregular. Menstrual bleeding may be scanty or heavy, or may be absent at all.

#8. Yeast infection

Fungal infection is rather frequent problem in HIV-positive women. It may be also difficult to get rid of mouth thrush and vaginal yeast infection.

#9. Nausea and vomiting

Many people with HIV infection complain of nausea and vomiting attacks. They may occur on any stage of disease.

Credit: Freepik

Credit: Freepik

#10. Infections

Affected immune system can't cope with numerous infections. Furthermore, having HIV dramatically boosts your risks of sexually transmitted infections like trichomoniasis, gonorrhea etc.

It's worth getting tested, even if don't have HIV signs. It's really important to know your own HIV-status to recognize disease on the early stage, get treatment as soon as possible and avoid spreading of infection.

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The BetterMe Team wants you and those close to you to live a healthy, happy life! Your health is a valuable thing; look after your body and your mind so that you can live your life to the fullest – Remember you only get one!

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