Human Immunodeficiency Virus
(HIV Management)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV, AIDS) Summary
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which infects humans when it comes in contact with a break in the skin or tissues such as those that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes.
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HIV facts

  • The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which infects humans when it comes in contact with tissues such as those that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin.
  • HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease.
  • Three stages of HIV infection have been described.
    1. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by a flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks.
    2. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years.
    3. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia).
  • When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. This mutation enables the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy.
  • The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease.
  • Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs.
  • The best combination of drugs for HIV has not yet been defined, but one of the most important factors is that the combination be well tolerated so that people can follow it consistently without missing doses.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/5/2014

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV, AIDS) - Symptoms Question: What symptoms have you experienced with your HIV infection?
HIV - Diagnosis Question: What tests did you have to diagnose HIV? What was your reaction?
HIV - How it's Spread Question: If known, please share how you contracted HIV.
HIV - Tests Question: What tests are used to monitor your HIV?
HIV - Management Question: Please share the ways in which you manage your HIV.
HIV - Pregnancy Treatment Question: Please describe your experience with HIV treatment during pregnancy. Does your child have HIV?
HIV - Prevention Question: In what ways do you actively prevent HIV transmission?