HIV Facts: Dispelling Myths and Nurturing Awareness

Harman Kaur
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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hiv facts

In 1981, the initial instances of a novel illness were documented by healthcare providers in Los Angeles, affecting five young gay men. 

This illness later became recognized as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

Over the years, significant strides have been made by scientists in comprehending AIDS and its root cause — the Human Immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.

Despite this progress, numerous misconceptions persist about HIV, giving rise to confusion, fear, and stigma. 

Regrettably, the repercussions of ignorance can be profound.  

Continue reading this article about HIV facts that are crucial for everyone to grasp.

Facts about HIV

Accurate information plays a pivotal role in comprehending and preventing HIV. 

Myths can pose harm. 

Acquiring factual knowledge about HIV can contribute to improved health and enhanced quality of life for individuals living with the virus.

HIV & AIDS are not the same 

hivSource: ktsimage_from_GettyImages
HIV blood sample

HIV is the virus that ultimately results in AIDS. 

AIDS is diagnosed when the CD4 count falls below 200 or when specific infections or cancers are present. 

It’s possible to live with HIV for an extended period without progressing to AIDS; the presence of HIV doesn’t automatically signify the development of AIDS.

People with HIV who start treatment early and stick to their medication plan experience better outcomes.

They maintain an undetectable viral load, can sustain good health, and prevent the progression of the disease to AIDS.

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Read the article on HIV in the Throat: Symptoms, Causes, Complications, and Treatment to know about the same.

HIV tests are reliable

More recent HIV tests identify the virus and detect a marker on the virus known as the p24 antigen. 

These advanced tests can detect HIV infection at an earlier stage compared to their predecessors. 

Additionally, a follow-up test to validate the results can also determine the specific strain of HIV infection.

HIV is not curable

Currently, there is no cure for HIV. 

However, with modern medicine, women can significantly reduce their viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) to undetectable levels. 

Fact:
An undetectable viral load means having fewer than 40 to 75 copies of HIV in a blood sample.

It’s important to note that having an undetectable viral load does not imply being free of HIV; there is still a possibility of transmitting the virus, although the risk is substantially lower. 

Ongoing research holds the potential for new treatments and preventive measures against HIV infection. 

There is no vaccine for HIV

At present, there is no vaccine available for preventing HIV. 

Vaccines, which are highly effective in preventing diseases like measles, mumps, or polio that can be transmitted from person to person, are not yet established for HIV prevention. 

HIV is a complex virus that changes over time, making vaccine research a challenging and time-consuming endeavor. 

Despite these challenges, researchers are making progress, and there is increasing proximity to the development of both a preventive vaccine for HIV and a vaccine for treating HIV and AIDS.

Women can transfer HIV to men

Although less common, men can contract HIV from women, and transmission is possible. 

HIV can enter a man’s body through the opening at the tip of the penis and also through cuts or sores on the shaft, even if they are not visible.

Warning:
Moreover, if a partner has an untreated Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) such as Genital Herpes, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, or Chlamydia, the risk of HIV transmission increases. 

These infections can attract more CD4 cells to the infected area or cause breaks in the skin, heightening the risk of both contracting HIV and transmitting it to others.

Low chance of a pregnant woman passing HIV to her baby

When a woman is aware of her HIV infection early in pregnancy and receives antiretroviral (ARV) medicine, the likelihood of transmitting HIV to her baby can be reduced to less than 1%

If you are pregnant, it is crucial to undergo HIV testing. 

Additionally, it is advised not to breastfeed your baby until you and your doctor are certain that you do not have HIV.

HIV-detected people should start their medicine immediately

Even if you are asymptomatic and feel well, HIV is causing harm to your immune system. 

To safeguard your immune system, the majority of experts advise initiating HIV medicines, known as Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), as soon as you receive a diagnosis of HIV. 

These medications not only lower your “viral load” (the amount of HIV in your blood) but also diminish the likelihood of transmitting HIV to others.

Conclusion

The journey from the early recognition of AIDS in 1981 to the present day has seen significant strides in understanding and managing HIV. 

Despite persistent misconceptions, accurate information remains pivotal in preventing and navigating HIV. 

While there is no cure, advancements in medicine empower individuals to lead healthy lives. 

Ongoing research provides hope for future breakthroughs, emphasizing the importance of awareness, testing, and timely treatment. 

As we continue the fight against HIV, knowledge and compassion remain our most potent weapons.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I live a happy life with HIV?

Individuals diagnosed with HIV can lead long and healthy lives by adhering to treatment. The initial period post-diagnosis may involve a range of emotions, such as sadness, hopelessness, and anger. Prioritizing mental health is essential during this adjustment phase.

How long can I live with HIV?

Individuals living with HIV can anticipate a life expectancy comparable to their peers without HIV. Research indicates that a person with HIV, given timely diagnosis, adequate access to medical care, and adherence to HIV treatment, can have a similar life expectancy to someone who is HIV-negative.

Can an HIV patient look healthy?

Following infection, individuals often appear and feel entirely healthy for an extended period. It may take ten years or even longer for HIV symptoms to manifest, and for those who undergo HIV medication, the onset of symptoms can be significantly delayed.

Citations:
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