Can You Have HIV For 20 Years And Not Know?
Can you have HIV for 20 years and not know? Like other infections or diseases, symptoms are necessary to determine a person’s medical condition. Physical or not, these early warning signs help diagnose an ongoing illness. But how about certain infections where the appearance and absence of symptoms do not necessarily apply? Yes, we are talking about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
What are the potential symptoms of HIV infection? Although most people are asymptomatic, there are still notable symptoms associated with the infection. These are as follows:
- Night sweats
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Mouth ulcers
- Weight loss
Can you have HIV and not know? The answer is YES, most especially in the absence of signs and symptoms. Not all people who acquire HIV show symptoms of the infection. This circumstance makes it difficult to know if you have the virus already thriving within your body. The only way to diagnose is by getting tested.
Without proper treatment, HIV can advance to AIDS. Also defined as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS is the most dangerous stage of HIV. At this stage, the virus totally weakens the body’s immune system and paves the way for different opportunistic infections. Its symptoms include the following:
- Rapid weight loss
- Recurring fever
- Frequent night sweats
- Unexplained weakness
- Recurrent diarrhea
- Sores in different parts of the body
- Neurological disorders
Aside from being the most dangerous stage of HIV infection, AIDS is also the last phase of the disease. Without the administration of proper medical treatment, death is a possibility.
If you do not know your status since the early stage of HIV, it can be challenging to address the condition immediately. Moreover, it can become worse if AIDS develops without you knowing. In terms of life expectancy, people with AIDS only live a maximum of 2 years. Twenty years of life expectancy are nothing if you are already experiencing a fatal condition, such as AIDS.
How long can you have HIV and not know?
Some consider having HIV is like having a death sentence. This is outlandish and an extremely rare case scenario. The availability of resources to treat and control the condition that we have at our disposal in today’s day in age has come a long way. Thanks to antiretroviral drugs, treating HIV is easier and drugs are more accessible.
How long you can unknowingly have HIV depends on your actions when it comes to engaging in activities, such as unprotected sex and drug injection use. HIV caters to different stages, and each of them involves other conditions. If it reaches AIDS, treatment can become very troublesome and challenging.
In HIV’s first stage, it will take some time for the virus to be detected in the blood. That’s why healthcare professionals advise those who think they have the virus to take the test after a few weeks of possible exposure. This way, they will receive a more accurate result and immediate treatment.
Now, how can you prevent HIV infection? The following includes the best preventive measures to follow:
- Use protection when having sex, such as condoms
- Get tested regularly if you have an active sex life
- Reduce having multiple sexual partners
- Avoid sharing needles or syringes, especially for drug injection use
- Take PrEP medication
What must you do if you suspect having the virus?
Get tested immediately. There are clinics and hubs today that offer free HIV testing. Do not rely on symptoms, especially if you do not have one. Visit your healthcare professional and seek assistance. If you get a positive HIV result, get immediate treatment by taking antiretroviral drugs. Early treatment can help control and manage the infection.