What is HIV-positive?
HIV-positive means a person has the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus, a sexually transmitted virus and is a precursor for AIDS or Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. Having HIV means an impaired function of the body’s immune system leading to various symptoms and complications.
Normally, our bodies create white blood cells and several antibodies to ward off infections. Some of these substances that fight infection are called T-lymphocytes. But the “virus” in HIV attacks these lymphocytes, and so the body’s immune system will become weakened, leading to a series of complications.
The HIV virus or “AIDS virus” is not transmitted through casual contact with people or through food and air as previously thought. It is passed on to another person through the blood, by means of an “exchange” of body fluids. This exchange of body fluids commonly occur during sexual intercourse, but may also happen when drug users literally exchange needles for use intravenously. HIV may also be transferred from a pregnant woman to her baby, or through basic blood transfusions.
Symptoms of HIV or AIDS include fever, flu, shivering, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight, muscle and joint pains, swelling of lymph nodes, diarrhea, and severe infections. Usually these symptoms last for long and are persistent even without an obvious cause. Due to body’s impaired immune system, those with HIV will have greater chances of contracting other conditions such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and other life-threatening diseases.
Management of HIV or AIDS is first geared towards prevention. Abstinence and the use of condoms are advised for the sexually active. Some pregnant women may also undergo a regulated drug therapy to prevent their babies from contracting HIV. Needle exchange programs are also setup to increase availability of clean intravenous needles for drug use.
There is still no definite cure for AIDS or HIV today, but some anti-retroviral drugs have been proven to delay or stop the development of the illness. Various researches are still being done to find a cure or a vaccine to stop this dreaded condition.