There are many misconceptions about HIV and AIDS out there. Many of them stem from the sensitive nature of these diseases. In truth, many still consider it taboo to talk about them. But one in eight people who have HIV aren’t aware that they have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That represents approximately 12.8 percent of the population who have not been diagnosed.
What is HIV?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, is a sexually transmitted disease that attacks the immune system and lowers your body’s ability to fight off infections. Over time, HIV progresses and destroys more and more of the body’s immune system. While there is no cure at the moment, treatment exists that can suppress the virus and give those who are living with the disease a long and healthy life.
While HIV is a sexually transmitted disease, it can be spread many ways. The four most common ways HIV is transmitted are sexual contact, intravenous drug use, mother-to-child (perinatal) and blood transfusions. However, some people are at higher risk than others. African-Americans are diagnosed with HIV more than any other race. But male-to-male sexual contact remains the highest risk factor for contracting HIV.
Symptoms of HIV tend to mirror that of the flu. The possible symptoms of HIV are:
- Night sweats
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
It’s important to note that many who contract HIV do not show symptoms for a long time. In fact, it’s possible to have the disease for 10 years without any symptoms. Therefore, regular testing is the only way to make sure you don’t have HIV.
What is AIDS?
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, is the final stage of HIV infection. AIDS is the stage of HIV where the immune systems has become badly damaged, and you are vulnerable to opportunistic infections. Essentially, AIDS is an advanced form of HIV. Not everyone who has HIV advances to this stage, and you cannot contract AIDS without getting HIV first.
The possible symptoms and complications from AIDS are much more severe and include the following:
- Rapid weight loss
- Recurring fever or night sweats
- Extreme tiredness
- Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands
- Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
- Sores of the mouth, anus or genitals
- Memory loss, depression and other neurologic disorders
An HIV diagnosis does not guarantee you will progress to AIDS. Certain medications can lower the level of HIV in your body and keep you strong. That will reduce the likelihood that your condition will progress to AIDS, and it can help lower the risk of you transmitting HIV to others. That’s why it’s so important to know if you have this disease.
The only way to know if you have HIV for sure is to get tested!
If you have had unprotected sex, have an existing sexually transmitted disease or share needles, you should be tested for HIV. At Any Lab Test Now, we can help you get the confidential testing you need to make sure you and your loved ones are safe.