What is HIV?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is spread through certain body fluids that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells, often called T-cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These special cells help the immune system fight off infections.
This damage to the immune system makes it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS if not treated.
How is it transmitted?
You can get or transmit HIV only through specific activities. Generally, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use. Only certain body fluids—blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane (found inside the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth) or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur.
Some people may experience a flu-like illness within 2 to 4 weeks after infection. But some people may not feel sick during the first stage. Flu-like symptoms include fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or mouth ulcers. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others.
If taken as prescribed, HIV medicine (Antiretroviral therapy - ART) can make the amount of HIV in the blood (viral load) very low—so low that a test can’t detect it (called an undetectable viral load). People with HIV who get and keep an undetectable viral load can stay healthy for many years and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex.
Talk to our doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking HIV medicines daily to prevent HIV infection, if you are at very high risk for HIV.
PrEP should be considered if you are HIV-negative and in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-positive partner or you aren’t in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) means taking HIV medicines after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. If you’re HIV-negative or don’t know your HIV status and think you have recently been exposed to HIV during sex (for example, if the condom breaks), talk to our doctor about PEP right away (within 3 days). The sooner you start PEP, the better; every hour counts. Keep in mind that your chance of getting HIV is lower if your HIV-positive partner is taking medicine to treat HIV infection (ART) as prescribed and his or her viral load stays undetectable.
Care for HIV
MedConsult Clinic provides effective testing and medication based on the tests to help you, because with the right treatment, HIV can be controlled. We have rapid HIV testing that is just a simple finger prick and can provide results in only 15 minutes. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, the test is able to detect 95% of infections after the 21 day window period, however after 3 months HIV tests are 100% accurate. CDC recommends getting tested at least once a year.
Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely, even with treatment. However, today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV. Our doctor can provide the right treatment to prevent HIV and control it, to help you live a normal life.