HIV attacks and kills crucial immune system cells (CD4 T-cells). A person infected with HIV may not show any symptoms for years. But unless treated, the number of these cells steadily drops. Without these cells (which kill cells that have been infected with germs) these will have some dangerous diseases.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects the cells of the immune system. When HIV comes to your body, essential immune cells (CD4 T cells). The way that these cells are killed is still unknown clearly.
Each day, your body produces millions of CD4 T-cells in order to maintain your immunity and fight off invading viruses and germs. When HIV comes into your body, the virus makes a copy of itself over and over. Therefore the number of killed CD$ T-cells increased. Then, infected cells outnumber healthy T-cells.
An HIV infection is typically divided into four stages, depending on how HIV affects your immune system: acute primary infection, clinical latent infection, symptomatic HIV infection, and progression from HIV to AIDS.
Acute HIV infection stage
Within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection, many, but not all, people develop flu-like symptoms, which is the body’s natural response to the HIV infection, include fever, swollen glands, sore throat, rash, muscle and joint aches and pains, and headache. During this early period of infection, large amounts of virus are being produced in your body. Your body responds by producing HIV antibodies and cytotoxic lymphocytes (killer T-cells that seek out and destroy invading viruses or bacteria). Therefore, HIV levels in the blood will be greatly reduced, and CD4+ T-cell counts rebound slightly.
During the acute HIV infection stage, the HIV virus is easy to transfer through sex or using the drug. It is because of the high levels of HIV in your bloodstream, Hence, it is very important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission.
Clinical latency stage
“Latency” means a period where a virus is living or developing in a person without producing symptoms, or only mild ones because the infection has likely not caused any additional symptoms or complications.
The second stage of an HIV infection has an average duration of 10 years for people who are not on ART. If you take ART, you may live with clinical latency for several decades because treatment helps keep the virus in check. Despite being present in very small amounts in your blood, HIV is very active in your body’s lymph system. If you have HIV and you are not on ART, then eventually your viral load will begin to rise and your CD4 count will begin to decline. As this happens, you may begin to have constitutional symptoms of HIV as the virus levels increase in your body.
However, people with HIV remain infectious and can pass HIV to another individual during this phase.
Symptomatic HIV Infection
Over time, HIV destroys your immune system. If the viral load begins rising to higher and higher levels, the immune system seems deteriorating. Your health condition is reaching a more advanced stage. Symptoms of this later-stage HIV infection include rapid weight loss, memory loss, recurring fever, and diarrhea that lasts more than a week. If the anti-HIV drug treatment does not work, or if a person chooses not to begin treatment, the immune system will begin to deteriorate more quickly. During this time, opportunistic infections become increasingly likely. These infections would not be a problem in a person with a normal immune system, but for people with a compromised immune system, they can become very troublesome. The infections are treated, but the progress of the disease cannot be stopped.
This is the stage of HIV infection that occurs when your immune system is badly damaged and you become vulnerable to opportunistic infections. CD4+ T-cell counts fall dramatically, and viral load increases significantly. When the CD4+ T-cell in a person’s body decreases to below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood and he or she is diagnosed with a stage-4 HIV-related condition (such as tuberculosis, cancer, and pneumonia), the HIV has progressed to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). A person is more likely to die when HIV progresses to AIDS. People who do not have treatment will typically survive about 3 years. Once you have a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. Thanks to the development of medication, the patient with AIDS are expected to live longer.
Body’s defense system can be damaged by AIDS, which is caused by HIV. People who are infected with HIV or anyone thought to be at risk of infection deserves compassion and support.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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