HIV What is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)? Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it difficult for the body to fight infection and disease. HIV is the same virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which increases a person's risk of developing certain cancers and infections. AIDS is the last and most severe stage of the HIV infection. However, having HIV does not mean you have AIDS. The good news is that people who are being treated for HIV are living longer than ever before with the help of drugs that slow the rate at which HIV infection progresses to AIDS. What causes HIV? The infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Most people get HIV by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV. Another common way of getting the virus is by sharing needles with someone who is infected with HIV when injecting drugs. HIV cannot be spread by casual contact such as kissing or sharing drinking glasses with an infected person. Once HIV enters the body, it infects a type of white blood cell called CD4+ cells. These white blood cells are an important part of the immune system that helps your body fight infections. As HIV attacks and destroys CD4+ cells, the immune system weakens and becomes less able to fight off disease. What are the symptoms? Early symptoms of HIV are often mistaken for the flu (influenza) or mononucleosis. These symptoms include fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and joint pain. A skin rash may develop, along with abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. However, many people have no early symptoms of HIV. The incubation period—the time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when early symptoms develop—may be a few days to several weeks. The early symptoms usually disappear on their own within 2 to 3 weeks. After you recover from symptoms of the initial HIV infection, you may not have symptoms again for many years. However, as HIV progresses, symptoms reappear and then remain. These symptoms usually include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fever, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes. A health professional may first suspect an HIV infection only when symptoms persist for no other reason. Symptoms Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) progresses in stages. These stages are based on your symptoms and the amount of the virus in your blood. Initial stage Flulike symptoms often appear within 3 to 6 weeks of initial exposure to the virus, although symptoms can develop within just a few days. This first stage is called acute retroviral syndrome. Symptoms of acute retroviral syndrome are often mistaken for symptoms of another viral infection, such as influenza or mononucleosis, and may include: Abdominal cramps, nausea, or vomiting. Diarrhea. Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin. Fever. Headache. Muscle aches and joint pain. Skin rash. Sore throat. Weight loss. These first symptoms can range from mild to severe and usually disappear on their own after 2 to 3 weeks. Established stage After you become infected with HIV, you may go many years without any other sign of illness. When symptoms come back, they may be vague and hard to describe (although some people complain of feeling fatigued or achy all over). A health professional may suspect HIV if symptoms persist or if a cause (such as influenza) of the symptoms cannot be identified. HIV may also be suspected when several of the following symptoms are present: Confusion Diarrhea or other bowel changes Difficulty concentrating Dry cough Fatigue Fever Loss of appetite Mouth sores Nail changes Night sweats Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, and groin Pain when swallowing Personality changes Repeated outbreaks of herpes simplex Shortness of breath Tingling, numbness, and weakness in the limbs Unexplained weight loss Yeast infection of the mouth (thrush) Additionally, HIV may be suspected when a woman has at least one of the following: More than 3 vaginal yeast infections in one year that are not related to the use of antibiotics Recurrent pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) Abnormal Pap test or cervical cancer Children with HIV often have different symptoms (for example, delayed growth or an enlarged spleen) than teens or adults. Late stage During the last stage of HIV infection, the disease progresses to AIDS. Some of the symptoms of AIDS include fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, fever, night sweats, and thrush (infection in the mouth). During this time, it also becomes easier for you to develop certain infections or illnesses, such as some types of pneumonia or cancer, which are more likely to develop when you have a weakened immune system. If HIV goes untreated, AIDS develops in most people within 12 to 13 years after they first become infected. With treatment for HIV, the progression to AIDS may be delayed or prevented. A small number of people who are infected with HIV develop AIDS within about 3 years if they do not receive treatment. It is not known why the infection progresses faster in these people. CD4+ cells CD4+ cells are part of the immune system and are a type of white blood cell (white blood cells protect the body against infection). CD4+ cells are also called T-lymphocytes, T-cells, or T-helper cells. HIV invades and destroys CD4+ cells. However, the body continues to produce new CD4+ cells to fight the HIV infection. If the infection is not treated with medications, the body gradually loses the ability to produce enough CD4+ cells to replace the number that are being destroyed by HIV. As the number of CD4+ cells in the blood drops, it becomes more difficult for the immune system to fight infections. CD4+ counts are measured every 3 to 4 months in people who are infected with HIV. The CD4+ count is an important measurement of the effect that HIV is having on your immune system and can help you decide when to begin treatment for HIV or when you need to try a different medication. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1, which causes almost all the cases of AIDS worldwide. HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness. HIV-2 infection is uncommon in the United States. How the disease is spread HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person's body, usually through: Sexual contact. The virus may enter the body through a tear in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Between 75% and 80% of all cases of HIV are 1 transmitted by sexual contact. Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person: o Shares needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, cocaine spoons, or eyedroppers used for injecting drugs or steroids. o Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item that is contaminated with HIV. It is now extremely rare in the United States for HIV to be transmitted by blood transfusions. Blood donors are screened for risk factors. All donated blood is screened for HIV antibodies, and most blood products are heat-treated to kill any HIV virus that may be present. Health care workers are no longer considered to be at high risk of exposure to HIV. Policies are in place in health facilities that require protection from accidental exposure. Sharp objects must be properly disposed of, along with wearing protective gloves, gowns, and eye and face protection ("universal precautions"). These measures have proven effective in protecting health care workers from HIV. Spread of HIV to babies A woman who is infected with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breast-feeding. Most children younger than 13 who have HIV were infected with the virus by their mothers. The risk of a woman spreading HIV to her baby can be greatly reduced if she takes the medication zidovudine (ZDV, formerly AZT) during pregnancy and if she does not breast-feed her baby. The baby should also receive ZDV after it is born. Ways HIV cannot be spread HIV does not survive well outside the body. Therefore, HIV cannot be spread through casual contact—such as sharing drinking glasses or by casual kissing—with an infected person. HIV is not transmitted through contact with an infected person's saliva, sweat, tears, urine, or feces, or through insect bites. Prevention You can keep from getting HIV by avoiding behaviors that might result in contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Practice safe sex to prevent HIV. Always use a condom during sexual activity, unless you are in a long-term relationship with one partner who does not have HIV or other sex partners. Do not have sex, including oral sex, with anyone who is infected with HIV. If you choose to continue to have sex with someone who has HIV, it is important to practice safe sex and to be regularly tested for HIV. Reduce your number of sex partners, preferably to one partner. Ask your sex partner or partners about their sexual history. Find out whether your partner has engaged in high-risk behaviors. Avoid alcohol and drugs, which can impair both your judgment and your immune system. People who know and understand safer sex practices may not practice them when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Do not share intravenous (IV) needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, cocaine spoons, or eyedroppers with others if you use drugs. What Increases Your Risk Most people get HIV by having unprotected sex with someone who has HIV. Another common way of getting the virus is by sharing needles with someone who is infected with HIV when injecting drugs. You have an increased risk of becoming infected with HIV through sexual contact if you: Have unprotected sex (do not use condoms). Have multiple sex partners. Are a man who has sex with other men. Have high-risk partner(s) (partner has multiple sex partners, is a man who has sex with other men, or injects drugs). Have or have recently had a sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis. People who inject drugs or steroids, especially if they share needles, syringes, cookers, or other equipment used to inject drugs, are at risk of being infected with HIV. Babies who are born to mothers who are infected with HIV are also at risk of infection. Contagious and incubation period The incubation period—the time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when early symptoms develop—may be a few days to several weeks. It can take as little as 2 weeks or as long as 6 months from the time you become infected with HIV for the antibodies to be detected in your blood. This is commonly called the "window period," or seroconversion period. During the window period, you are contagious and can spread the virus to others. If you think you have been infected with HIV but you test negative for it, you should be tested again within 6 months. Once you become infected with HIV, your blood, semen, or vaginal fluids are always infectious, even if you receive treatment for the HIV infection. Stages of HIV Most people go through the following stages after being infected with HIV: Acute retroviral syndrome, which is a flu-like illness. This often develops within a few days of infection, but may occur several weeks after the person is infected. HIV without symptoms (asymptomatic). It may take years for HIV symptoms to develop. However, even though no symptoms are present, the virus is multiplying (or making copies of itself) in the body during this time. HIV multiplies so quickly that the immune system cannot destroy the virus. After years of fighting HIV, the immune system starts to weaken. HIV with symptoms (symptomatic). Once your immune system starts to weaken, you are more likely to develop certain infections or illnesses, such as some types of pneumonia or cancer, which are more common when you have a weakened immune system. AIDS, which occurs during the last stage of infection with HIV. If HIV goes untreated, AIDS develops in most people within 12 to 13 years after the initial infection. With treatment for HIV, the progression to AIDS may be delayed or prevented. Treatment Overview The most effective treatment for HIV is highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—a combination of several antiretroviral drugs that aims to control the amount of virus in your body. Other steps you can take include keeping your immune system strong, taking drugs as prescribed, and monitoring your CD4+ (white blood cells) counts to slow the multiplication of the virus in your body. If HIV is not treated, it eventually progresses to AIDS, the last and most severe form of HIV. People with AIDS are more likely to develop certain illnesses— infections (such as tuberculosis) and some cancers—that are common in people who have weakened immune systems. www.webmd.com HIV Article Worksheet Name______________________ Period _______ 1. HIV stands for _______________________________________. 2. AIDS stands for ______________________________________. 3. HIV attacks what bodily system? a) Digestive system b) Endocrine system c) Immune system d) Circulatory system 4. How do most people get HIV? a) Kissing b) Sharing needles c) Unprotected sex d) Breathing infected air 5. What cells does HIV attack and destroy? a) Red blood cells b) White blood cells c) CD4+ cells d) HD43 cells 6. Early symptoms usually arise in an infected person within 12 hours. T or F? 7. Which of the following is NOT an early symptom of HIV? a) Fever b) Diarrhea c) Dementia d) Abdominal cramps 8. Initial stage symptoms are typically flue like and appear within- a) 3-6 months b) 2-6 weeks c) 1-3 weeks d) 3-6 weeks 9. These initial symptoms usually disappear within _____ to _____ weeks. 10. The established stage carries symptoms described as fatigue and achy all over. When does this stage usually appear? a) 2-6 years b) Many years after the initial stage c) 6-12 months d) 5-10 years 11. During the late stage of HIV the disease progresses to AIDS. T or F? 12. Which of the following symptoms is not commonly found with AIDS? a) Muscle cramps b) Fatigue c) Fever d) Thrush 13. Without treatment AIDS usually develops within ____ to _____ years. 14. HIV invades and destroys CD4+ cells, which makes it difficult for the body to _________________ _____________________. 15. What are three main ways HIV is spread? a) ___________________________________________________ b) ___________________________________________________ c) ___________________________________________________ 16. What are two ways HIV CANNOT be spread? a) ____________________________________________________ b) ____________________________________________________ 17. Which of the following are ways to prevent getting HIV (more than one)? a) Practice safe sex by using condoms b) Avoid talking to HIV infected people c) Reduce your number of sex partners d) Don’t travel to highly infected regions of the world e) Avoid metropolitan areas f) Don’t use drugs or alcohol g) Stay away from dentists h) Don’t give blood or receive blood transfusions 18. The 2 week to 6 month period in which HIV antibodies don’t appear in the blood is known as the- a) Contamination period b) Window period c) Sickly window d) Deadly era 19. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is a combination of several antiretroviral drugs that aims to control the amount of virus in your body and cures the disease. T or F? 20. People with AIDS are more likely to develop serious illnesses and infections because they have a _________________ _________________ ____________.
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