What Does HIV Stand For?
What does HIV stand for?
HIV is one of the world’s leading health concerns. It is a type of infection that purposely attacks the body’s immune system and causes different health complications. But what does HIV stand for? Below is the overview of HIV that you need to know.
The acronym HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a viral infection that people commonly get through unprotected sex. Thus, it is described as a sexually transmitted infection. Without proper treatment, it can progress to AIDS. This acronym is defined as “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome”.
As of the present time, HIV doesn’t have a cure. However, treatment is available in the form of antiretroviral drugs. This form of treatment acts in accordance with antiretroviral therapy. It involves the consumption of combined drugs, which can be two or more anti-HIV agents.
How will you know if you have HIV? Well, like other infections, the first way to know of an existing illness is through the symptoms. While some infected individuals can be asymptomatic, the presence of signs and symptoms can help you identify and assess your health status. Here are the widely known symptoms of HIV:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rashes
- Muscle aches
- Night sweats
- Mouth ulcers
Note that these symptoms are flu-like, which can be hard to tell if HIV already exists within the body. And since these are flu-like, people tend to disregard their condition. So, what can they do further to know their status besides relying on the symptoms? This is where HIV screening and testing become a necessity.
There are different types of HIV tests. These are as follows:
- Antibody Test
- Antigen/Antibody Test
- Nucleic Acid Test (NAT)
Among these tests, NAT can provide the most accurate result. However, its cost can be expensive. The rapid antigen/antibody test will require a finger prick, with results ready after 30 minutes or less.
What are the different stages of HIV?
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) progresses into different stages. These are as follows:
Stage 1 – Also known as the acute HIV infection, stage 1 encompasses most of the flu-like symptoms. During this phase, the viral load is high in the blood.
Stage 2 – This stage is better termed chronic HIV infection. During this phase, symptoms do not appear. However, the virus remains active and continues to make more copies of itself.
Stage 3 – Being the most advanced stage of HIV, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) paves the way for different opportunistic infections. At this stage, the immune system has weakened and is severely damaged. Additionally, the viral load becomes so high.
How can you prevent HIV acquisition?
There are several ways to prevent HIV. Consider the following:
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse.
- Avoid sharing needles or syringes if you engage in drug injection use.
- Take PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) medication.
Taking regular antiretroviral drugs can prevent the further spread of the infection if you already have HIV. What do these drugs do? First, they suppress viral load. Second, they boost and support the immune system. Lastly, they inhibit the replication process of the virus. Some of the best examples of antiretroviral drugs are: